Mish Damstra

Sixteenth Floor

Like pins in putty, yes, pins in putty, her heels sink into the pile
The carpet is cream, the cream of her dreams, the lace of her bra is black
She presses the button, the round brass button, pants under the lace awhile
The doors slide open, the doors glide open, and her mirrored self looks back

Both put hands to their hearts, their thudding hearts, and step closer to one another
She turns away from oneself, herself, and pulls the tight skirt down
Wiggles her bottom, beach ball bottom, the denim too tight for a mother
Nail polish frayed, she presses a button, presses again with a frown

As the doors slide, slide to a close, a billowing flag pushes in
Her pashmina flies brown, her hair is white, a white topknot like a scone
Standing in boots, suede boots, French manicure and White Linen perfume
She opens her bag, her camel bag, yes, something is definitely wrong

Pashmina Woman is blowing, blowing her nose too hard, shaken to her core
Mini Skirt is wiggling, wiggling and pulling, pulling down where there’s too much air
Watching the lights, the numbered lights, as they’re lifted to the sixteenth floor
Between her fingers, her nervous fingers, she chafes her butternut hair

Brittle strands rasp, rasp as she rubs, and her lips move in prayer
Who is this woman, this topknot woman, sharing her lifting space?
At last, at long last, with a gentle whine, they know, must know, they’re there
For the light is green, green numbered sixteen, and sixteen is what they face:

There waits a young girl, a pretty young girl, barefoot, toe-ringed and cross
She screams at the woman, the topknot woman, ‘Why didn’t you tell me before?’
Her fringe is long, long over her eyes, and she clears her eyes with a toss
‘My father’s my uncle, my brother my cousin, my mother a Kenilworth whore.’

Pashmina Woman is shocked, so shocked. The girl knows this, from where?
Mini Skirt sees the mole on the cheek, on the cheek of the child she bore
Steps back into the lift, her lift, for this meeting she cannot bear
Sixteen is the age she was, she was, when from her this child they tore

For she was nothing, yes, she was nothing. Nothing but a Kenilworth whore


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