Gilt-edged, inspired by Maria Dorsey 1885

Born in a fine red brick house in the right part of town
her father’s hands still rough from hard labor
Behind the lace curtains of his bow front windows
her father’s hands folded in a well tailored suit
She learned to be a good daughter

a leading light in all of the colored ladies clubs
his smooth hand grazed hers at the restaurant
Swept away by feckless glances
shopworn cliches brand new in her own hands
She learned to be a good wife

Encased in stiff linen and whalebone
her hands rested on her growing belly
pressed against her father’s pride, bound tight to her husband’s IOUs
She covered her eyes
two gun shots and one of the kitchen chairs tumbled backwards

their fine house full of people and accusations
her little sister’s scream hang like smoke
a gilt edged diary torn wide open
she took her hands down, lifting up her head
that was the only lesson she ever needed to learn

Photo by Dids on


  1. barbfedericiyahoocom says:

    WOW! This story prompted me to look up the story of the Dorseys. It was both sad and fascinating.

    1. Isn’t it interesting? Once I came across this story I went for a deep dive into the Gilded Age. Thank you for reading! I so appreciate it.

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