Interior Image

Stephanie Pruitt

Years: 2005


Black Pepper

Belle Brook Plantation, 1847


Cook stows it away

in apron pockets as she prepares

a meal she will not sit down to eat,

knowing, one day, others may run.


Teaspoons of crushed black gold

rubbed on the heel of boots with hope

that it will defeat the hounds.

Let those well seasoned feet run.


After Packing,

the Bottom Drawer

of Young Miss’s Bureau

Will Still be Full

Belle Brook Plantation, June 1851


I will take no more

than can be pinned, pocketed or remembered,

and am only carrying memories that serve me

well. I will take five coins, two loaves of bread,

a jar of Royal’s Crown pomade, scraps of paper,

a pencil nub, three straws from the broom

my Mama’s Mama jumped twice (I swept her dirt floor with it

every Sunday) and sachets of pepper sewn around the hem of my skirt

because prayers and wax sealed papers pinned to the inside of my bodice

will not keep the hounds at bay.





Telegram, as Promised

New York, April 1851


Dear Sir –STOP-

I arrived –STOP-

You have filled me –STOP-

since my blood first came –STOP-

I carry letters and words you taught –STOP-

but leave your scent in my hair behind –STOP-