The elevator doors closed
the little cube of a room
I’d raced into after seeing
them open on their own.
And once inside, the yellow ceiling light
and the polished warm-hued trim reflected
the small orange button I pushed
for floor 10.
Only when the miniature fires inside
buttons 3 and 4
did I realize I had boarded the
and thought that seven extra stops
made for a nice number,
an unexpected rabbinical ride.
This vertical ride, I thought,
reminded me too of the subways,
just off by 90 degrees or so,
when the express train
and nobody bothers to tell me in advance
that the A train leaving Harlem’s 125th
would stop at 116th, and 110th & 103rd of course,
and fail to bypass 96th
before slowing at pleasant 86th Street,
and pausing at 81st to drop off
museum goers anxious to see the dinosaur fossils.
And what’s one more stop at 72nd
before reaching the usual Columbus Circle-59th?
I will never look at these
seven extra stations the same way
but will instead offer a quiet prayer of thanks
for their underground burrows
teeming with rivet and rodent and tile.
Indeed, life offers many
unexpected stops–many knots along its
coiled rope of time.
Perhaps if I could roll the paired dice
of urim and thummim,
I could always avoid the flight
with the unanticipated layover,
the homeless man around the corner
who will ask me for a quarter,
even the slow line at the grocery store
that looks deceptively short.
No, it may be better
to savor these little hiccoughs–
despite their sour taste–
and to realize that interruptions
even if it’s the M60 bus
hobbling from block to block,
its engine wheezing as it traces
its Parkinsonian route.
And so the elevator
groaned and shuddered,
yawning at every floor
with a breath as invisible
as every Cohen and Shapiro
that rode with me that evening.
And with the seven stops,
I thought of suffering and blessing,
of scrolls and incense,
and considered a wish of
to my patient soon to give birth upstairs.