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Laura Madeline Wiseman

Elevator Girl Brand

After all, if a brand was not a product, it could be anything.

          --Naomi Klein


What corporations fear most are consumers who ask questions

          --Billy Bragg


In Kyoto Station aquarium shark failed credit cards. Prada bags scout for flakes. Miu Miu boots stalk passersby. Jimmy Choo slingback sandals strut and tease Fendi belts. Elevator girls stride on the surface of polished granite. (How deep is the rock?

Has anyone actually been to the bottom?) Elevator girls reflect in ripples beneath their Juicy Couture pumps.


Elevator girls take proposals. Their Monday lunch interviews include escalator and floor plan tests. Elevator girls mount stairs in Le MystŤre slips and stretch satin gloves. (I canít be the only one who sees them.) They flank locked stores. They patrol parquets of hosta and koi. Elevator girls command dreams. They dominate lifts and floors. Fourth floor incinerator, fifth floor sweatshops, sixth floor queue for check-out.

consumer concerns

An elevator girl cocks a hat. One fists her chin. A third stoops. (Are elevator girls more than elevator girls? Or are they less than elevator girls?) A dozen teem in mute debate. One assesses a Versace mini-dress dive. Five survey their image in the flecked floor. Elevator girls fill with purchases. They exhale bar codes.


Elevator girls welcome me to next seasonís fashion line
of hangers and bags. One clasps her elbow to say, yes touch.

I blush. Wince hot. Ask her why. Her eyes answer, press it
to you.
Elevator girls giggle at our bent heads. They leer
near arabesque windows, by stained glass lights, under clocks with competing times. Then, the husbandís alarm. (But, I donít have to work tomorrow! Itís black Friday.) I try to return to the elevator girls dream but find only Dior peep-toe pumps.

unmet needs

Elevator girls have done it. Theyíre stranded in price tags, overturned trouser racks, and overcoats mixed with hat boxes. One tries to mate shoes. Another counts shredded receipts in display window glare. Elevator girls pick through the detritus of last seasonís bag. Three elevator girls are pinned beneath headless mannequins in red madras gowns. (Why wonít they meet my eyes?) Elevator girls cluster around a nude wicker bust on the floor. Where the heart would be, one presses a hand.


Elevator Girl Brand is based on "Midnight Awakening Dream" in White Casket by Miwa Yanagi (2004). The epigraphs are from No Logo by Naomi Klein (Picador, 2000).

Laura Madeline Wiseman is working on a dissertation at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. Her creative writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Margie, Blackbird, and Sonora Review. Her work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

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