She bore the burden of taunts with grace;
after all it was her own fault.
As she walked home and heard another
whisper of “hussy” shouted her way,
Audrey reached a protective hand
towards the baby growing inside her.
She thought back seven months to
the night her life changed so dramatically.
She had been walking home after the social,
only then it had been bitterly cold.
She thought how lucky she was
when her neighbor pulled up with his buggy.
“Hop up. The horses are used to stopping at your house.
How’s your pa?”
Gratefully, she climbed up to the seat.
She had been so cold,
and when he offered his arm around her
it was warm and safe.
She should have known better than to act in such a way–
ladies do not act in a manner
to tempt a man to lustful thoughts.
That’s what she had done–
“Tempt a married man, a good man. How could she?”
That’s what he had said when she finished crying,
and he returned her to her family.
Later when she realized that she carried his baby,
she determined to correct her mistake.
She would deliver this baby without a mention of his name.
She alone would suffer from such shame.
It’s the least she could do for being such a temptress–
gracefully she would bear her burden.
When her family demanded to know who she’d been with,
she sat quietly.
When the minister spoke to her of repenting and confessing,
she sat quietly.
When the neighbor’s wife now passed her on the street
and whispered harlot, she walked on quietly.
Soon she would quietly give birth without family celebration
and name her daughter Grace.
This week’s topic for the Monday Poetry Potluck is romance. I don’t do romance. Instead, I’ve looked into my family history to my great-great aunt. All I know is that she gave birth out of wedlock in 1907 at the age of 17. In all my genealogical research, I’ve learned that a couple’s first baby can come as soon as three months after the wedding and it is normal. It’s only with the second baby that it requires a full nine months to develop. Because of her age and because she did not marry, I can only assume the father of her child was someone who took advantage of her. At this time, however, she bore the sole burden for her situation, and her own family even whispered about her. It’s finally time we stopped holding her accountable for being taken advantage of.