Little Fuckers

Thomas Jefferson, forty-five,
U.S. Ambassador to France

Sally Hemings, sixteen, slave, half-sister
to Jefferson’s dead wife


At his residence in the Hotel de
Langeac, Paris, 1788


Thomas

the last eight miles to my hilltop on horseback in deep snow, Patty throwing her head back to laugh, her breath pluming into the moonlight How difficult it is to come home with you, Mr. Jefferson and then the doorway is drifted high with the snow and I lift her into my arms to carry her through and the servants are asleep and the fires are out and we are home at last and I find a Chateau Latour and I start a fire and we drink and she turns her face to me My husband she says and there in our bedroom on our wedding night the firelight isn’t enough to keep the night’s darkness from tainting her face, like this face now, Sally’s, her very blood shared with Patty, but her face darkened from within, as if through memory, as if by death, as if by my six-year grief, and Patty throws her head back at the run of her hands on the keys and I finger my strings lightly, the Bach sonata carrying us both and I am wooing still and she will say yes and we will marry and she will die, and I look into these eyes now and now and they are dark, Patty’s hazel charred into deep blackness, but the shape of them is the same and I hear the Bach and I run now inside like Patty’s hands running on her harpsichord I run and I run and I pursue my happiness

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