A Poem by Laura Eve Engel

Burden of Belonging

Today we are grieving our nation’s
peaceful transition of power

what we are really saying is we’re scared
about how many of us
choose not to recognize
we depend on one another

to stay whole and unhurt

I am responsible for you
here hold my heart

why am I glad for this burden
of belonging when others
are not

to whom do some of us
not belong
who hurt some of us so

but here they come again
this history of men

who when they were healthy
refused the hearts of their neighbors
until they were weak from it

now their suffering punches up
out of the rich soil

thorny and asserting
you are not suffering I am

something inside the weed
urges it to need
and kill the garden

to offer and offer itself
until it’s choked all
but its own color out

where it was never written
not all suffering is created equal
and not all need

vigilance against the new appearance
of old growth
has never been enough

we must rewrite the ground

Laura Eve Engel’s work can be found in Boston Review, PEN America, Tin House and elsewhere. She is a recipient of fellowships from the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation, the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center, and the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing.

The Poetry Section is edited by Mark Bibbins.