Arms

I’m feeling downwardly mobile, please hold me in your arms.

A human upper limb from forearm to wrist. Body part most associated with power and might. The long arm of the law. The logistical arm of the Air Force.

O bitter airborne struggle over the armrest on a plane!

I don’t like being held at arm’s length, especially when the holder has exceptionally long arms.

An arm is the foreleg of a four-footed animal. Would human hunters be so excited about the right to bear arms if the law also extended the right to arm bears?

Arm in arm is a comforting if inefficient way to walk.

Few people look attractive with a sweatshirt tied by the arms around their waist, but some look okay with a sweater draped over their shoulders like a prep school kid or a sweet old man or Carlton on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.

I’ve never stood arms akimbo, studying the family coat of arms, but I often sit back and wrap my arms around my knees.

America has more guns than people, an absurdity that could make you weep: everybody on the street potentially armed and dangerous. Even babes in arms just armed to the teeth. The cost of going to the store could be a literal arm and a leg if somebody chooses to shoot it up.

Do I only find the sexiness of bare arms with tan lines unerring because I was a child in the 80s?

Lay down your arms. Really, lay them down and tuck them in neatly. Read them a bedtime story, sing them a song, tell them good night, and bid them sweet dreams.

Is scary-cute the rarest form of cute? A big old T. Rex with 60 teeth, each eight inches long, and two itty-bitty arms.

To furnish or equip with weapons? No thanks. But to arm citizens with the right to vote? Yes, please. All world leaders who want to hold arms races should instead resort to arm wrestling at most.

Repeal the Second Amendment already.

The fashion these days is to denigrate Hemingway as hopelessly macho, but A Farewell to Arms holds up. I admire the way he struggled with the ending especially, rewriting it by his count at least 39 times.

I like to say of my nephew sometimes, “Get a load of the arm on that kid!” when he throws a ball, but honestly, he’s a lot better at soccer.

My favorite memory of you is when you crossed your arms and said, “Let me show you how to set a boundary with an asshole.”

God takes the dead into his arms and sorts them out.

My new strategy: I welcome existential dread with open arms, I ask it to coffee, I get in its head. I make it my friend.

***

Kathleen Rooney is a founding editor of Rose Metal Press, a founding member of Poems While You Wait, and the author, most recently, of the novels Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk (St. Martin’s, 2017) and Cher Ami and Major Whittlesey (Penguin, 2020). Her poems have appeared in Poetry, the Atlantic, the North American Review and elsewhere, and her latest collection Where Are the Snows, winner of the XJ Kennedy Prize, is coming out from Texas Review Press in Fall 2022.  She teaches at DePaul. 

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