Saturday, March 23, 2019

Women's History Month: Lynne Bronstein's "Sally Hemmings"

There are no known images of me
While his face decorates the five-cent piece.
Imagine me as the face on a coin.
They said I was
“Near white and very beautiful.”
They said some of our six children
Looked like him,
Proof that he fathered them.
Proof that only
Made him, third President,
Thomas Jefferson,
Look like quite the stud.

I was just the maid,
The companion, the one who sewed buttons
On the presidential clothes.
He freed my brothers.
His daughter freed me.
He educated my brothers
But not me.
I too, yearned to play the violin
But I was there to be played upon.
Six offspring.
Science still trying to prove
What I knew all the time.
For me this wasn’t
Political scandal.
Each child
Was a memento
Of a rendezvous.
The middle-aged, lonely widower
Finding in me the solution to his neglected desire.
Me finding in him,
A certain excitement,
Sparkling like the nickel
That now bears his likeness.

Then when my lying-in time came,
I pushed and clung to the bed post
And proved my courage six times over.
The men were lauded for winning battles.
I won the biggest battle.
I brought those six children into the world.
I suppose it was an error
To call our friend Washington.
The father of our country
When so many claim
My man as their ancestor.
But I,
I was
The Mother of Our Land.
I too,
Should have my likeness
Remembered on a coin.
Surrounded by six stars
For each of my children.

(c) 2019 Lynne Bronstein

Lynne Bronstein is a poet, a journalist, a fiction writer, a songwriter, and a playwright. She has been published in magazines ranging from Chiron Review, Spectrum, and Lummox, to Playgirl and the newsletter of the U.S. Census Bureau. She’s done four books of poetry and her first real crime story was published in 2017 in the anthology LAst Resort. Her adaptation of Shakespeare’s As You Like It was performed at two LA libraries. Recently her story “The Magic Candles” was performed on National Public Radio .She’s been nominated twice each for the Pushcart Prize and the Best of the Net awards.

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