Nothing in My Arms

Helping My Daughter Move into Her First Apartment
by Sue Ellen Thompson

This is all I am to her now:
a pair of legs in running shoes,

two arms strung with braided wire.
She heaves a carton sagging with CDs 

at me and I accept it gladly, lifting
with my legs, not bending over,

raising each foot high enough
to clear the step. Fortunate to be 

of any use to her at all,
I wrestle, stooped and single-handed, 

with her mattress in the stairwell,
saying nothing as it pins me, 

sweating, to the wall. Vacuum cleaner,
spiny cactus, five-pound sacks 

of rice and lentils slumped
against my heart: up one flight 

of stairs and then another,
down again with nothing in my arms

From American Life in Poetry: Column 231