The Indication

by Craig J. Fishbane

Even the ashtrays are in need of repair tonight
as I watch for movement in the elevator shaft—
the shifting of the grey metal arrow as it lifts itself
along the numbered perimeter, bringing news
of offerings from the empty lobby, invitations
to this most distant of the higher floors,
this sanctuary of burnt cigarette butts,
far removed from the surface of things—
the small-talk of women on the sidewalk and the odor
of children on summer evenings before the rain.
Even the light of stars is too faint
to penetrate the window at the end of the vestibule,
frosted glass tempered with dust and fingerprints.
A naked bulb illuminates the cracks radiating across the walls
like traces of web fossilized in plaster,
each meandering scratch threading its way
down the chipped paint to the tiles exposed on the floor,
where I crawl from door to door, plodding in darkness
on hands and knees, knowing there must be a key
under one of these mats, an ornate figure carved in brass
that will allow me once again to visit the unfurnished rooms
of an apartment, a penthouse offering the rare consolation of a view—
a moment alone on the abandoned balcony without need to acknowledge
the tinny reverberations on the other side of the threshold,
the cadences of bells after a long interval of silence,
the indication from the elevator that someone else had arrived.

Craig Fishbane, who was nominated for a 2008 Pushcart Prize, has been published in Lost Worlds, Flashquake, Opium and Barbaric Yawp. He is presently at work on a collection of poems based on his travels in Bangkok. One of these pieces will soon be featured in the New York Quarterly. Although he considers writing poetry to be an excellent means for paying the bills, he supplements his vast literary income by teaching English in New York City