Alice, in your pageant terrible,
Forced to sew the futile seams
Of a society ripped unrepairable
By needle, head nor lucid dreams.
Your intellect beat by stern manly tred
Ambition burdened by shade of coal
The day he forced you down on the bed
Tears bled down the lips of a lesser soul.
Now, though, the renaissance is yours;
Stitches unfurl to unravel the clues
To talents eternal of earthly chores
And wild violets blooming colorful hues.
You are not blood, tears, hurt or bone
But shapes, rhythms – etchings in stone.
This poem references Alice Dunbar-Nelson (July 19, 1875 – September 18, 1935), and her most famous poems (both reprinted in Beltway Poetry Quarterly), “I Sit and Sew” and “Sonnet” as well as her troubled, violent first marriage to Paul Laurence Dunbar. Dunbar-Nelson is the author of two books, and worked as a journalist, teacher, and public speaker.
Arun Sood is a writer and journalist of Scottish and Indian descent. He is currently working on a book exploring the cultural history and reception of Robert Burns in the US, and is the recipient of a Fulbright Fellowship from Georgetown University, and a Kluge Fellowship from the Library of Congress.