A hand shot through, reversing the doors.
Four riders entered—polite nods, thank-yous—
varying in age, size, and color.

But when I murmured an elevator of women
just loudly enough to be heard,
faces lifted and brightened, heads
nodded, soft chuckles tumbled about.

Then, the one who’d stopped
the closing doors, spoke:

That’s right. That is right!
All . . . women.
Strong. And safe!
Smart. And be-autiful!

Sounds of assent rose with each declaration.
The elevator hummed, at some point stopped.
We nodded—smiles holding—slipped back
into ourselves, and stepped out into the lobby.

But as I drove home, I reviewed her words. 

Strong I got—because we must be.
And safe—when those doors closed, no one
had to go to the familiar wondering.
Smart? I was not sure—but maybe smart.
Smart to assume the strength, to understand the safety. 

And beautiful?
As a stand of cedars.
A field of moss-covered boulders.
A tidal marsh fringed by grasses. 

Beautiful?
You should have seen us.