Riding the Elevator into the Sky
by Anne Sexton
As the fireman said:
ttDon’t book a room over the fifth floor
ttin any hotel in New York.
ttThey have ladders that will reach further
ttbut no one will climb them.
ttAs the New York Times said:
ttThe elevator always seeks out
ttthe floor of the fire
ttand automatically opens
ttand won’t shut.
ttThese are the warnings
ttthat you must forget
ttif you’re climbing out of yourself.
ttIf you’re going to smash into the sky.
ttMany times I’ve gone past
ttthe fifth floor, cranking upward,
ttbut only once
tthave I gone all the way up.
ttsmall plants and swans bending
ttinto their grave.
ttFloor two hundred:
ttmountains with the patience of a cat,
ttsilence wearing its sneakers,
ttFloor five hundred:
ttMessages and letters centuries old, birds to drink,
tta kitchen of clouds,
ttFloor six thousand:
ttskeletons on fire,
tttheir arms singing.
ttAnd a key,
tta very large key, that opens something –
ttsome useful door – somewhere –
Sexton Songs (all versions)
Composer(s): David Conte
Song(s): 1. Rowing
2. Her Kind
3. Ringing the Bells
4. Riding the Elevator into the Sky