The Elevator


We rode the elevator
from the park
down to the metro station
which feels surreal anyway
like Alice in Wonderland
plunging down the rabbit hole.

On the second floor
we stopped for
four young teachers,
each of them leading
three toddlers
in red baseball caps.

I tucked Damien behind me.
We’re a little scary to Japanese children.
So round and pink.
So tall and brown.

As each teacher entered,
she moved her three children
to make room for the others.
I thought of those
primary coloured
snap lock beads
from when I was a kid.
The pieces snapped apart
to make the necklace
or longer.
You could bend it around.

The doors kissed closed
and we were six adults
and twelve children.
The car heaved
with cuteness
and although
we were descending
the air got thinner.
I started to laugh.

Some of the small heads
turned up
towards us.
Their eyes were large with
“What are they?”

The bell dinged.
As the doors slid open
I thought we might spill out
like marbles
onto the concrete floor,
rolling past groves of shiny black shoes
and dogs straining on their leashes.

The teachers unsnapped the necklace,
led the children off
in their tiny groups
and down into the metro
where I imagine them riding still
in Tokyo’s basement.
Small superheroes
in red baseball caps.

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