Poetry

Invitation to a Pleasure Ride with Phillis Wheatley as Honored Guest

Tiphanie Yanique

    A pig, to roast. 8lbs


I, Cesar Lyndon, accountant of the Lyndon Estate, ask sincere permission to invite the esteemed Miss Phillis Wheatley on a pleasure ride to the summer lake

            rum. 0lbs. 4shillings.
            lime. 4lbs.
            wine. 3lbs. 12shillings.

I hope, also, to invite Neptune Sisson of Portsmouth and his wife, Mrs. Dinah Sisson, also of Portsmouth

            The use of a wagon and horse. 7lbs. 4shillings.
            Sugar. 2lbs. 4shillings.

I wish, also, to invite Miss Sarah Searing, correspondent of Miss Wheatly

            Poetry on the topic of God’s wisdom to be recited             
            by Miss Wheatly
            Breads to be baked and brought by Miss Sarah


(Miss Sarah. My beloved.
Whom, if I be allowed
and so blessed by
God, Master and Sarah,
will be my wife. May Sarah, also and in addition,
be given
leave,
for love.
Because what more could a man
want
as the sum
of his life, even one of slavery,
than the company of good
minds and good friends?
And how blessed if among those goods
may be a good
woman who rises to equal
that man? Who accounts,
for her own happiness, as a smile from that man?
Who will distribute
her love to this man, myself,
in tones kindly at times
and crossly at others, as her words
in any ledger
be love?
What else could man, any man, even a bonded
man,
want?
What cost
could best
this balance?)

            Tea. 2lbs. 15shillings.
            Butter. 1lb.


As for the subtraction of my labor. It is, respectfully, my afternoon off.

            Rum for killing the pig. 0lbs. 10shillings.


I, Cesar Lyndon, request permission from Master Josias Lyndon, to take leave for four hours, to prepare for travel to and forth, and to attend this honorific pleasure ride for Miss Phillis Wheatley and friends to the summer lake

Tiphanie Yanique is the author of four books, including Wife, which won the Bocas Award for Caribbean Poetry and the UK’s Forward Prize. Originally from the Virgin Islands, Yanique is associate professor of English and creative writing at Emory University.
Originally published:
February 28, 2022

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