“Keep clear of lifts” the sign dictates
uncompromising in a dismal station,
not – “Keep clear when the lift is moving”,
“Don’t leave your luggage by the lift”,
“No access to unauthorised personnel”,
or even, “Beware this lift – it bites”.
but – world without end, KEEP CLEAR OF LIFTS.
Don’t succumb to that flight of fancy –
you’re English – cherish no high hopes.
(Lifts seem dangerously European.)
Avoid the doors of perception,
the gates of heaven and hell.
Mind your ps and qs. Don’t sniff.
Play up and play the game. KEEP CLEAR OF LIFTS.
Lifts could catapult you upwards,
leave your stomach hanging in mid-air.
You don’t know where you are with lifts –
they’re something else – they let you down,
they box you in and send you flying.
For safety’s sake, make sure you’ve got
clean underwear – KEEP CLEAR OF LIFTS.
If you want your life to stay the same,
your feet to stand on solid ground;
if you hate the thought of changing levels,
seeing sights you never saw before;
if you catch the same train every day,
clutching your briefcase, a flask of tepid tea:
the writing’s on the wall – KEEP CLEAR OF LIFTS.
©Virginia Rounding, 1993
First published in Ebbing Tide 10, Fall 1995