A Guide to Elevator Rides

Art by Patrick Driscoll

By Jude Casimir


step into the dim

the narrow

the slow, the crawling, the shadowy


and remember how in elementary school you’d have buddies,

how they’d ease the always-fear of stopping suddenly, suspended in space, getting yanked,

and having no one there to steady you or help you to your feet

or keep you tethered to the ground


lose yourself in the nostalgia


and lose yourself in the biting exhaustion,

knotted into your veins, caught between your synapses—

don’t worry, it’s never coming undone

lean for support on one of the walls that may or may not be closing in

lean into the possibility of getting crushed


and lose yourself in the dizzy you didn’t used to feel


slide because the wall’s not enough, slip through it

sink to the floor, sink through it

fold in on yourself, fight all the now-fears on your own

in ten years they haven’t evolved or dissipated,

they’ve only become part of you


and wonder, in the back of all this, feel it nagging,

why didn’t i just take the stairs

surely being a little out of breath is better than this,

splitting in half, shattering, melting all over public property,

giving the janitors more work than they need

surely feeling your legs leaden, your body rid itself of any stamina it’s got left, is better


and finally land on your floor,

start when you hear the ding, loud, strange, far away


yank yourself off the ground, fast and violent, before the doors reveal you


breathe, quickly compose,

step into the bright, the wide-open

except now you crawl, you drag

you took the dim with you


now panic over if anyone and everyone can see

now repeat on your way back down

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