Author’s Note: This poem, as the epigraph indicates, explores the relationship between a mistress and her slaves. Primary source documents indicate that slave-owning women showed little compassion for their female slaves and were often extremely cruel, in spite of their shared plight as women and mothers. However, they lived on intimate terms with their slaves and must have been aware on some level of their common humanity. In the space of this poem I imagine a moment of human recognition, fleeting as it may have been.
While legalized slavery ended 155 years ago, the racist ideas used to justify the violence and cruelty of slavery are still very much with us. I believe that by trying to understand our past we can better equip ourselves to fight contemporary racism and build a more equitable future.
Was There Ever A Moment of Recognition by Holly Karapetkova
Holly Karapetkova’s poems and translations from the Bulgarian have appeared in The Southern Review, RINO, Prairie Schooner, Alaska Quarterly Review, Poetry Northwest, as well as the Delmarva Review, and others. Her second book, Towline, won the Vern Rutsala Poetry Contest and was published by Cloudbank Books. She is chair of the Literature and Languages Department at Marymount University, in Arlington, Virginia.
Delmarva Review publishes the best of new poetry, short stories, and creative nonfiction from thousands of submissions annually. The independent literary journal is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit supported by tax-free contributions and a grant from the Talbot County Arts Council with funds from the Maryland State Arts Council. Print and digital editions are available from Amazon and local bookstores.