How to Lift Him
Don’t pick him up by the pits,
which seems easiest. You risk
broken bones, bruised skin.
Instead, once he’s eased up, sits,
shoulders hunched, feet slung
over the edge, lean down for the hug,
your arms under his and around,
hands flat against his back, his arms around
you. This is what you do. Then lift him,
his feet between yours, this timid
dance around, this turn. Tell him
to bend his knees as you ease him
down to the chair, its wheels locked,
set him in slow. Kneel in front
as if to receive his blessing.
Lift each foot to its rest. Wrap
a blanket around him—you’re going out.
Stop at the old flat-front desk,
last hiding place for his cigarettes—
why he wanted up, after all. Stop
at the edge of the porch and lock
the wheels. Make sure he’s in the sun.
Stand silent by, he won’t talk much,
though the lonely cat will,
rubbing its back against the wheels.
From Ark (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2016). Copyright © 2016 by Ed Madden. Used with the permission of the poet.
Ed Madden was raised in Newport, Arkansas. He received a BA in English and French from Harding University, a BS in Biblical Studies from the Institute for Christian Studies, an MA in English from the University of Texas at Austin, and a PhD in literature from the University of Texas at Austin. His most recent collections include Ark (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2016), Nest (Salmon Poetry, 2014), and Prodigal: Variations (Lethe Press, 2011). He is a professor of English and director of the Women’s and Gender Studies Program at the University of South Carolina, where he teaches Irish literature and creative writing. In 2019, he was named an Academy of American Poets Laureate Fellow. Madden currently serves as the poet laureate of Columbia, South Carolina.
Date Published: 2016-03-15
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/how-lift-him