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Fifth floor walk up
by Kyle Burkhart

The cab pulls away in a cough of smoke
As I shiver in the December night and reach for the button
Your voice whispers, far away and scratchy through the tin speaker
Perhaps you’re upstairs perhaps on the moon it's impossible to tell
The buzzer shrieks and the door snaps open onto a hallway; empty and dark
A small narrow stairway visible to the right
A passage to nowhere off to the left
The heat is oppressive against the chill from outside
And I can feel my face dry out and tighten like an old drum in the desert
I mount the stairs and begin to climb
Up through aromas like human strata
Each layer hiding small secrets
Garbage rots, food cooks, ganja burns vibrant as I pass through them in the dark
I begin to notice sounds as the denizens of this small world live their lives
The gentle lilt of a woman’s laugh as she conspires with unseen friends
The deep throb of a too small stereo with too much bass trying much too hard
The clatter of dishes against a sink; echo and fade
As I continue to climb higher and higher
The peel and stick numbers peeled and stuck to the walls
Offer mute testament to my progress
And each floor becomes a discovery, a revelation, a peek, a glimpse
Furtive and chaste into this small slice of the city
The muffled voices the lingering aromas the pulsing heat
Hint at something sensual and exciting
And my heart pounds with anticipation
Until I reach the fifth floor
And your door slowly swings open

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Document last modified on: 04/02/2006

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