Elevator People

I have an interview

in this skyscraper of glass

with grey elevators

pulled on metal strings.

This one in particular

smells of somebody’s lunch

and my grandmother’s musk.

If she were here

she would double check

I had brushed my hair

and ironed my blouse.

A peeling sign

recommends a capacity of eight

in a building with ten floors

and a rooftop view

of the Thames.


On zero there are but two;

another visitor and myself.

We twiddle the badges

provided by the receptionist;

we are both headed for floor six.

She is my competition

and her blouse

was dry cleaned

and steamed;

I can tell by how she stands,

immovable like marble,

every crease, deliberate.


She avoids my stare,

watches the doors open

on floor three.

Two suits enter

shoulders first

and we both shrink

into opposite corners

as decimal to ratio

chatter begins;

monotonous and bleak.

I consider the likelihood

of listening to this every day

if I get the job,

and then wonder

if it smells of lunch

because somebody ate,

I forgot breakfast

or stale breath

from nonsensical mathematics

lingers in the air;

never escaping

through the doors.


They open on floor four

to a woman with hair

to the small of her back,

rings on every finger

and a dress which sits

just right on her hips

and ends mid-calf.

She smiles at the suits,

lipstick on her teeth

and nods at floor six,

notices it is already lit.


The other interviewee

now looks at me

as we realise we’re all

headed the same way

to another grey box,

yet this one will have views

of the skyline

and London’s carbon footprint.

We’ll continue

to twiddle our badges,

the suits will talk chin first

and the lady will hum.

We won’t recognise the tune,

she makes it up

as she goes along,

dabbing cologne on her wrists.


I wonder if I could spend

every day like this

as the doors open

to floor six.



© Kristiana Reed 2019

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