Ancestral Burdens

The voice through which I speak
Is not my own alone.
Those incoherent, weak,
And silent as a stone
Speak through me, too, somehow.
The burdens that I bear
Life hardly deals me now,
Ill-cursed as I am from care.
No, the woes I wear I inherit
From forebears long ago,
Sorrows I do not merit
From folk I never did know.
And will some unsought wind
Someday send a chill
Through some who’d scarce call me friend
Yet bow beneath the will
Of an unassuagable grief
I bequeath them, dull as a ton
Though light as a drifting leaf
In late October sun?


William Ruleman is Professor of English at Tennessee Wesleyan College, where he teaches a wide range of courses, including creative writing and literature, with a specialization in modern poetry in English. His poems have appeared in Acumen, Candelabrum, East River Review, The New Formalist, The Sonnet Scroll, The Galway Review, and Poetry Salzburg Review.