When does old-fashioned become tradition,
and when does out-of-date become charming?
When does classic become obsolete,
and when does old become ineffectual?
When does inexperience become opportunity,
and when does youth become hindrance?
When does an explanation become an excuse,
and when does a lens become a bias?
How can you live during every societal revolution of the last fifty-plus-years,
and still blame your bigotry on you being from a different time?
How can you boast about having lived, really lived,
and in all those years, still have learned nothing?
Ascension as a Mixed-Bag
The elevators are cramped, and frightfully fast,
And every day I stand rigid as thirty-five floors shift to below me.
There are loads of men, who flit through the building,
Up and down and up and down—
They enter after me and stand near the front.
Then they wait for me to pass, because for them it is polite,
For them it is polite,
For them it is polite.
And they’ll get a good look at my ass as I walk ahead.
They have no sense of space.
They stand blocking my way through the door,
Sweeping their hand and saying “after you, after you.”
But there is nowhere for me to go.
There are rows of them stacked in front of me,
And they are blocking the door.
I’ll take efficiency over politeness:
Stop blocking the door—
This does not happen in the elevators filled with women,
With nine of us, crammed like sardines, in three rows of three—
with our elbows grazing and our bags bumping.
It is so calm; it is so safe,
I can breathe.
We all step aside when stopped at someone’s floor.
None of this “After you, after you,”
We get out of the way,
We prioritize mobility,
We smile as we pass.
Renee LaBonte-Jones is a writer based out of Payson, Arizona, who enjoys knitting assorted rectangles, the diaries of dead authors, and 90s movies about boys and their dogs. She has an English BA from Great Basin College, and her previous published work includes a nonfiction column, short fiction, and poetry. These have appeared in The Reno Gazette-Journal, The First Line Literary Journal, Argentum Magazine, and One Sentence Poems. More information can be found at reneelabontejones.com.
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