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  • Writer's pictureMernine Tevna Ameris

monticello nightmare

it’s nighttime

somewhere in virginia –

the tour guide

walks us through monticello,

thomas jefferson’s infamous home

as he stumbles

over the word “mistress,”

labeling sally hemings

history’s oldest sidechick.

fingers find the word “affair”

not just in history books

but live in albemarle, virginia.

monticello

i wonder now

if they just misspelled “fear”.


thomas proclaims the slave’s inferiority to a newborn nation

as he promises sally that their children will be free.

freedom:

the brand name kind

that he could never give her.


tour guide says

he loved her so much

he couldn’t let her go.

forgetting love does not grow chained. how could she have said no

if she was property he inherited?

there was a monster

laying in bed

albermale county,

do you see it?


thomas’s hands snake around her on

sundays

in order to soothe a sick loneliness.

violence’s sole victor: the estate

pays homage to violet thighs,

black and blue from beyond the grave

of Massa’s king bed,


where the blood of sally hemings slept.

until his death.


it is now on display

on the back of a nickel.


sally slave sister mother

now mistress.

a name that is not her own.

still bleeding a scarlet letter.

trapped underneath a hypocrite

childbearing hips at the age of 14,

speaks only when spoken to

by a man 30 years her elder,

breathes air

she is told that she must be grateful for

as she gasps.


its nighttime

somewhere on a river in paris.

sally wonders

could bondage be better than watery bliss?

she’d have to ask her son.


but

this boat

has drowned her

thousands of times

in her dreams.


& somewhere in virginia,

tour guide sinks teeth into too many ghost

stories.

about this settled historical matter.

an american scandal.

would they ever twist their lips to call him what he was?

a shadow.

at nighttime

somewhere in virginia,

I wept.



Edited by: Ava Pauline Emilione

Cover Photo Displays: Sally Hemings


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2 Comments


Ava Emilione
Ava Emilione
Jul 31, 2022

i adore this

Like

Leslie Vargas
Leslie Vargas
Jul 31, 2022

hauntingly beautiful.

Like
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