God Could Not Make Her a Poet
Thomas Jefferson said this, more or less,
After he read the musings of the clever African
Phillis Wheatley, a sensation of both the Colonies
And England, a black patriot, though a slave.
Whatever a black hand can build, he knew,
Could only be guided by a master’s vision,
Like this room of the mansion he probably
Wrote his opinion in—what black mind could
Dream in these proportions? And gather
The slope of these Virginia hills so lovingly
To his window? God could give her words,
But the subtle turn? Like giving a gull
A sack of gold.
Copyright © 2022 by Cornelius Eady. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on February 24, 2022, by the Academy of American Poets.