Among the only sounds in this cool, wide lobby:
elevators humming a hydraulic lullabye,
doors shushing the few people waiting to emerge,
to enter, to go up, to go home.
Silk forsythia, white noise, acoustic music—barely
discernable, gently distracting, insulating, building
walls where there are only doors, windows where
there are only empty spaces between museum prints
People don’t look at each other, here.
We discreetly avert our eyes or, when pressed,
serve up wan, unfocused smiles to those unfamiliar
with our unwritten rules of non-engagement.
Below a bright EXIT sign, a door swings open.
A dark-haired, middle-aged man scans the room,
sees me, smiles.
We climb two flights of stairs (he likes to stretch
his legs now and then, and knows I don’t mind),
arriving in a hallway notable only for its red carpeting
patterned with gold and black.
In his office, we sit, make settling noises, appreciate
the crisp fall day. Then: “How’ve you been?” he asks,
eyes glinting with good humor and his greatest gift—
his superpower—an honest desire to know,
to me telling him
how I am.
The world is full of brilliant people who choose to spend their lives
helping others. I am so grateful for them.
(c) by Hannah Six