The elevator man opened the gates.
They rattled as the car descended to the basement.
There old steel dryers were pulled out on rollers
So hot you could burn your hands.
Inside the dryers were metal rods for hanging wet laundry.
Even with decades of baked green enamel,
I could still read the manufacture’s names.
The clothes dried over flaming gas burners;
I always smelled burned cotton.
The laundry was too hot even on cold winter nights.
It faced the backyard
enclosed by a high concrete wall.
Beyond was my elementary school.
Just passed the elevator I walked
into the boiler room where steaming water
rose eighteen floors through the building’s hot water pipes.
A man stripped to his waist shoveled coal into the flames —
its light and heat beckon me.
Acknowledgements include: The Ravens Perch, upstreet 16, Mudfish 21, Pank, Work Literary Magazine, Offcourse, and The Westchester Review. PANK long-listed my book manuscript, “Gut Renovations,” in 2020. I have studied at the Hudson Valley Writers Center for several years and have taken numerous classes with a variety of poets including Chris Campanioni and Jennifer Franklin.