My burden comes on the third date,
When they wonder how many people I’ve been with.
The burden of not knowing how to answer that question
Comes without a fourth.

My burden comes with knowing my mother
Sees me as a project now.
Like if she had enough glue,
And maybe a sewing needle,
Eventually I would be the same.

My burdens stand on her shoulders,
She carries me, and I’m heavy.
I start to break her,
The way you broke me.

People often ask me about myself.
And I hate them for that.
I hate you for that.
I hate the way that you forced me
Into a story,
The same way you forced your way
Into me.
The burden of dirtiness,
A permanent change,
A story of shame.

My story comes with the possibility
Of being seen as
A liar.
An instigator.
A baby.
A flirt.
But that is my burden.

And even though you don’t deserve
Even a line in my book,
You’re in every stitch of ink.

My burden looks a lot like hope
That has been squashed by reality.
It’s a young girl squinting up,
From her knees,
Praying to that man behind the moon.

Prayers go unanswered.
Hope turns to doubt,
Doubt to resistance
And resistance to hate.

Somehow the hatred
Doesn’t even point to you.

It points to the mother
And the father,
The ones who didn’t see what was happening
Until it was too late.

It points to the friends
Who say you’ve changed,
That you’re too miserable to be around,
That all you care about is

It points at the teachers who said
They were disappointed.
That my potential
Exceeded my work.

It points to God,
Who says I have to find some
Kind of holy purpose
In this sin-ridden body.

Worst of all,
It points to myself.
For letting you in.
For believing that at the age of fifteen,
I thought I knew what love was.
I thought you were love.

But that is my burden.
What is yours?

Alison Beck was a sophomore studying Psychology at St. John Fisher College, yet found herself drawn to English courses. Alison was taking a Creative Writing course when her professor pulled her aside and told her that he didn’t care what her major was because he already knew she was a writer. Beck is now a junior with a double major in English and Legal Studies, finding herself one poem at a time.

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