by Kelly Kline

The biggest burden I’ve beared so far,
Assuming just materially, was a backpack,
On mountain trails, thirty miles, no car,
Just coats and soap and oats and such in my backpack
For my dad, who thinks that trips with tents
Up hills with rocks, wool socks, and boots is fun.
But walking with him, and thinking about my backpack,
And how it’s so much, and he once carried me in one.

I am my father’s burden, beloved without bounds,
And like this, each peak I reach with my bag’s twenty pounds
Become boxes of Earl Grey tea,
Which he paid for just for me.
Every surmounted boulder becomes a book for my shelf,
Every bug bite a check for the nurse who haunted me,
With words of how much I cost with my mental health

When hiking, when carrying my every sip of water,
Trudging through an ankle-twisting tangle of trail and trees,
It made me think until I felt like an awful daughter.

But then comes the end, and my backpack’s off:
A simple sip of searing-cold Snapple,
A simple touch from back to cushioned chair,
I looked back and it struck me,
Some burdens are good to bear.