Bible Quilt, circa 1900


by Jane Joyce


Harriet Powers
stitched the Scripture as she saw it.

With the joyful animals dancing in the dawn of the
newmade world, she put the independent hog that ran five
hundred miles from Georgia to Virginia. Her name was
Betts.

With Adam and Eve, the falling of the Stars in 1833.
With Jonah and Moses, Cold Thursday when the blue
birds died, and a woman froze praying at her gate, and a
mule's breath fell to icicles.

Christ crucified,

Mary and Martha weeping.
May 19, 1780
when the sun went off
.
to darkness
the seven
stars were
seen at noon,
the cattle
went to bed,
the chickens
to roost, and
in that Dark
Day a
trumpet
sounded.
Everywhere
the
unwinking
eye of God,
the merciful
hand
outspread.

Owing to the
hardness of
the times,
Harriet
Powers
asked ten
dollars for
that quilt.

Owing to the
hardness of
the times,
she took
five.

Handed it
over to
Jennie Smith
wrapped in
two sacks
like a baby;
like a
mother, a
slave
mother,
Harriet
slipped away
to visit her
quilt. She
was "only in
some
measure
consoled by
the white
woman's
promise of
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