Harriet Powers (1837-1910)


It may be imagined that Harriet stayed close

to her roots – remaining in the state of Georgia

after gaining freedom. Yet her quilting patterns

illustrate past family in Benin, West Africa –

her ancestors present in the cloth strips design

and in the asymmetry of scene borders.


Some did imagine and said, that she, ex-slave,

must of course be illiterate – she, who later in life

read the Bible more than ever in her church group,

and wrote about her well-known Bible Quilt,

viewed in the colored section of the Athens Exposition,

each of fifteen squares a story from the Bible.


We can surely envision that she loved quilt-making,

creating at least five, between sewing clothes

to earn money to raise her children.

Perhaps then she wore her special apron

we can see in a photograph, embellished

with celestial bodies: a moon, sun, shooting star.


Windrush Generations

I. 1948 U.K. Need

So many men and women

lost

in World War II

So much labor

lost.


So many Jamaicans

sold

on a cheap ticket

on the Windrush

to Britain.


So many Parliamentaries

scared

dark-skinned people

might

keep coming.



II. Britain Scandal 80 Years Later

Home Secretary

threats, orders –

Windrush immigrants

barred from work

some detained

some deported

some denied healthcare –


some came as children

no passport

declared “illegal”

lost housing

lost benefits,

became destitute.


And it was

Paulette Wilson’s

newspaper interview

slowed

mistreatment.

Brought

eventual compensation.


III. Jamaica

Windrush people

deported

some retired

to warmth

built

a dream house, garden –

fresh mangos, bananas,

in lush greenery,


but problem mountains:

air heavy

with envy, jealousy.

Windrush people

not British enough


not Jamaican enough,

and Delroy Walker

was one

of more than two hundred

murdered,

the wide blood splatter

left all over

his new house.


Lavinia Kumar’s latest books are Hear Ye, Hear Ye: Women, Women: Soldiers,
Spies of Revolutionary and Civil Wars, No Longer Silent: the Silk and
Iron of Women Scientists
, and Beauty. Salon. Art. She wil have new poems soon in SurVision Magazine. Her poetry has appeared in US, Irish, & UK
publications. She can be found at https://laviniakumar.org/