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.

Poem copyright ©2006 by Sue Ellen Thompson, and reprinted from When She Named Fire, ed., Andrea Hollander Budy, Autumn House Press, 2009, and reprinted by permission of the poet and publisher.  First printed in The Golden Hour, Sue Ellen Thompson, Autumn House Press, 2006.

Discover this poem’s context and related poetry, articles, and media.

Poet Sue Ellen Thompson

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Subjects Living, Parenthood, Midlife, Time & Brevity

Poetic Terms Free Verse

 Sue Ellen Thompson


Sue Ellen Thompson is the author of five books of poetry, including They (2014), The Wedding Boat (1995), and This Body of Silk (1986). Her two other books, The Leaving: New & Selected Poems (2001) and The Golden Hour (2005), were nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. Known for her elegant control of form, Thompson’s poetry has been praised for its metaphorical heft and sinuous syntax. Poet B.H. Fairchild praised The Golden Hour for . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poems by Sue Ellen Thompson

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Parenthood, Midlife, Time & Brevity

POET’S REGION U.S., Mid-Atlantic

Poetic Terms Free Verse

Report a problem with this poem

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.