Between Floors


I wait on an elevator stuck between floors
Shifting my weight, hands deep in my pockets,
Chewing my lip and practicing invisibility.
A chipped vase clucks her tongue and grazes the rough skin at my elbow.
"You're broken."
Her head tilts as she regards the curiosity.
The space explodes in a chattering of birds,
Beating their wings against my hair, my coat, my cheeks,
Searching for crumbs with razored beaks.

"I'm a doctor; let me through!"
A card tower chirps, using his talons to pry open a hole.
His nose is not unlike a blade.
I lean back involuntarily, wary to bleed.
"Here's your problem," he says, pointing just below the fold of my elbow.
"Thin skin. Highly transparent. Paper in the rain."
He shakes my arm and words unsaid flutter down.

"Nonsense!" cries the fortress in the corner,
Cigar stump pinned between gravestone teeth.
Blunt claws jab at my ribs.
"See here? A cage. Bars rusted shut. A prison."
He draws a heart of ash on my coat.
I brush at it with hands like blocks of wood.
It smears but does not fade.

"A flower needs pruning," the vase interjects,
Spilling water on us all.
She pinches my side, flesh between fingers,
And a furnace flares in my cheeks.

"The truth is," I begin, a bit loudly, speaking before thinking,
"I have this to carry."
I hold up a rock I pull from my pocket.
On it, scraped into the stone, are Names.
Dates.
Secrets.
People who hurt me.
Times I hurt myself.
Lies and Pain.
Loneliness, Tears and Failings.

"Won't anyone help me?"
As I speak, the cards tumble to the floor,
The fortress bursts into rubble,
And the vase splits in two.
My feet are showered with words and tears and dirt.
The truth that all things are broken.

When the doors finally open, I step out,
Unaware and uncaring of which floor I'm on.
When you're always looking down
The patterns under your feet remain the same.
And so they were
And so they do
On every floor.

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