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POETRY
Accelerating Elevator
Jennifer Givhan
Writer of the Month

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Are they rising or falling? Rosa & Nieve
cannot determine the way things fall, even
when they expect the drop, the impossible
thought experiment: to be in a box

in space away from globes or suns
no stars whirring past
to show movement or stillness—
Are they frozen? Lurching

in the peach pits of small stomachs?
I’m dizzy Rosa tells her sister. Maybe
schizophrenia works this way—how it’s
impossible for two people in two different

frames of reference to agree on the time.
Gravity works this way too, with our eyes closed
or the windows shut. I’ve just had the happiest thought
Nieve says, the ice of her hair melting rapidly

at these speeds—A girl falling is the same as flying
downward.
Einstein said similar, & there was no
soft pile of garbage the way the media got it all
wrong, how Newton’s apple never landed

on his head. Watch the light, Nieve—
It curls & she’s not sure why
bending was predicted. Nothing’s
pulling. Toward whom is the body floating &

what happens in the elevator?
One of the sisters inevitably presses a button
to stop the flow—                                                                                   

Cállate, Nieve. Quarry men are climbing the cliffs,
their drunken deserts. Let’s pretend instead it’s
Stephen Hawking in his wheelchaired throne                                                          
or David Blaine come to show us how endurance

is an art, like everything else, like dying. When
Nieve goes with David to the underwater tank
& pulls needles through her palm, narrowly
missing bone, Rosa wonders how

she ever survived childhood, crawling
these caves—she begins missing
her family the way Lieserl wanders
in her fevered dreams, each girl lonely

as a single particle can ever be, connected
to every piece of light/matter there ever was
both spooky & translucent.
The elevator crashes. There is no elevator. 


Jennifer Givhan is a Mexican-American writer and activist from the Southwestern desert and  the author of three full-length poetry collections: Landscape with Headless Mama (2015 Pleiades Editors’ Prize), Protection Spell (2016 Miller Williams Poetry Prize Series), and Girl with Death Mask (2017 Blue Light Books Prize). Her honors include a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, a PEN/Rosenthal Emerging Voices fellowship, the Frost Place Latin@ scholarship, a National Latino Writers’ Conference scholarship, the Lascaux Review Poetry Prize, Phoebe Journal’s Greg Grummer Poetry Prize, and the Pinch Poetry Prize. Her work has appeared in Best of the Net, Best New Poets, Poetry Daily, Verse Daily, Ploughshares, POETRY, TriQuarterly, Boston Review, AGNI, Crazyhorse, Witness, Southern Humanities Review, Missouri Review, and The Kenyon Review. She is editor-in-chief of Tinderbox Poetry Journal, and teaches at The Poetry Barn and Western New Mexico University. www.jennifergivhan.com