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.
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.
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
do you see it?
thomas’s hands snake around her on
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
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,
she is told that she must be grateful for
as she gasps.
somewhere on a river in paris.
could bondage be better than watery bliss?
she’d have to ask her son.
has drowned her
thousands of times
in her dreams.
& somewhere in virginia,
tour guide sinks teeth into too many ghost
about this settled historical matter.
an american scandal.
would they ever twist their lips to call him what he was?
somewhere in virginia,
Edited by: Ava Pauline Emilione
Cover Photo Displays: Sally Hemings