Somebody may be watching, but itís still my time. I swing my leg to the handrail and raise my arms up in a bow. Soaring past floors eight, then ten, and it looks like Iím getting lucky; itís not going to stop. From the change in altitude I feel the first dents of pressure in my head. A slight vertigo sets in!
I glance around for the lens, because I know it is there. I like to make eye contact with it. In some elevators it is hidden in the display above the buttons or beneath the ceiling paneling. Just this little iridescent black eye. I wink. My favorite is the classic convex mirror, which shields the camera in a corner of the elevator. The two together, camera and mirror, make no bones about their task of documenting your movements. The curved, bright shape of the exterior resembles the eye, perhaps, of a very large beast. It allows you to watch others in the elevator. And sometimes you need that. I lean into my stretch and silk lining tickles my legs intricately beneath the stockings. Retreating to the back of the elevator I reach my arms out into a T, and I can almost touch both sidewalls with the tips of my fingers. Three or four inches of ankle appear beneath the cuff of my suit pants, which are thin and crisply ironed by a dry cleaner.
Passing floor forty-five. My ears pop. I swing my left leg down and right leg up in a scissor-kick, landing my ankle gingerly on the opposite rail. I take a broader stance to lift, inhale and bend. The soaring intensifies the pleasure of the stretch, and I recognize that I am experiencing ballon, a feeling of lightness that usually only comes after Iíve taken a leap.
Long ago, before I ever rode elevators and when I thought I could pay my bills through dance, my childhood ballet teacher taught us to stretch by plucking apples from an imaginary tree. Then to bend, slowly, to place the fruit in the basket. How vividly I saw the tree in her dance studio! From its thick, knotted trunk spread a multitude of shady bows. And she, a spry, crone-like figure, would crouch low to lift the basket, her worn black leotard drooping to reveal a strong and freckled back.
She inducted me into the simplest terms of dance, sublime experiences contained in a simple hop from foot to foot, categorized by old French masters for centuries. Since then I have scoured the definitions for each word, but have always wondered if perhaps there were more names—no, not names, but experiences. I once sought to pioneer my own, hopping sideways, backwards, twisting through the air in search of a new joie. Then I found the camera, the eye.
I lean deeply into the stretch and gaze, just as deeply, into the eye. My floor number lights overhead and I swing my leg down from the handrail like a clap. The doors open and the elevator fills with a fierce electric light. I walk succinctly to sit at my terminal. The permutation of rates and exchanges, shares bought, sold, and dropping, dance—did somebody say dance?—frenetically across the screen.
fiction poetry "fact" photography