The Foot in the Elevator

The woman across the elevator—
we were the only two—
without provocation,
slipped her bare foot from her shoe.
It was a strong foot,
a dancer’s foot,
and she stretched and pointed it
like a gun.
(Her toenails were painted the color
of purple chewing gum.)
It was a strong foot,
sculpted from her fifty or so years,
unevenly veined,
as if time had bound it
with green and blue yarn to keep it in check.
She pointed and stretched it
as if it was all there was.
There was no subtext to her exertion,
no message, no invitation.
Likely she was tired from standing
all day long,
and didn’t care if I was there
to wonder at her bare strong foot
exposed in the elevator.

Keith Dunlap is a former co-editor of The Columbia Review and former co-editor of Cutbank, having received his MFA from the University of Montana. His poems may be found in Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review, The Brooklyn Review, The Carolina Quarterly, and The Georgetown Review, among other places. His manuscript, “The Foot in the Elevator,” was a finalist at Brickhouse Books New Poets Series and The New Issues Poetry Prize, and a semi-finalist for Brooklyn Arts Press. Dunlap lives in Portland, Maine with his wife, the novelist, Jenny Siler, and his daughter, Vivica.

See another of his poems in 3.4 here.