Sarah Pemberton Strong

Novelist and Poet

“The stakes in Strong’s sharply etched and crafted poems are high:
language that summons us to compassion, responsibility, gratitude for being alive.”

—Joy Ladin

Moving a Baby Grand

The piano is hauled in, a captured elephant,
legless, enormously dismaying on its side,
blanketed against making a sound

yet too dignified to show humiliation.
Up the stairs, such massive weight
doesn't seem possible, and yet

there they go, three men sweating
with the effort of making a living.
At last in our apartment, they screw the legs

back on. And I remember—
this old piano's white keys
are made of sawed-off tusks;

sometimes the metaphor for suffering
turns out to be the suffering itself.
At which point I stop watching the work

and go into the kitchen for three glasses
of ice water, which I give to the movers,
because if you want the world

to be less burdened with cruelty
and indifference, this moment you
are standing in would be the ideal

fulcrum from which to lift a finger,
even if it is only to play a single note,
say, the F above middle C;

though the piano deserves Beethoven;
the moving men, champagne;
the elephant, the world.


     Originally published in Mississippi Review