Something Splendid to Eat: a picture book about slavery

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Children Stories  |  House: Booksie Classic

An enslaved mother raises and tries to protect her son as they suffer the brutality and dehumanization of slavery.

SOMETHING SPLENDID TO EAT (the speaker is an enslaved woman with a son)

(the son is 1 year old)

Hush now, my baby, and swallow your fear,
you must never be heard when the master is near;
he’ll sell you in anger or just on a whim,
and I won’t see my wonderful baby again.

Your father was sold to a farm up the way,
and to see him requires that I beg and obey;
I don’t want to lose you, so please take a nap,
and I’ll work while you slumber in peace on my lap.

Each year, on his birthday, we’re order to make
for the master a fabulous basket of cakes;
they’re baked in the oven, in butter they’re fried,
and we serve them with berries and cream on the side.

————- (the boy is 5)

The fruit that you pick they will not let you eat,
and for tasting the milk we’re degraded and beat;
you can’t lick the bowl and you can’t scrape the pan,
and I know this is somethng you won’t understand.

They’d rather the scraps be thrown out to the swine
than that we should enjoy something perfect and fine;
our hands made him rich and our hands make the feast
but we’re still not permitted the tiniest piece.

The whip can rip into your flesh to the bone,
and the injuries heal but the scars never go;
the part of yourself that you lose won’t return,
this I know but I hope that you won’t have to learn.

———————– (the boy is 12)

The master will glut on the food we prepare
‘til he cannot so much as sit up in his chair;
he’ll shuffle to bed and we’ll clean while he naps
still forbidden from even enjoying the scraps.

So harden your face if your mind’s to be free;
what you think and you love you must not let them see.
They’ll hold it before you to force you to plead
for whatever you long for, whatever you need.

———————- (the son is 16)

I’m old, I am weary, it's too late for me,
but you’re young and you’re stong and well able to flee;
when you’ve gotten away and are finally free,
you must promise to eat something splendid for me.

Submitted: December 18, 2017

© Copyright 2021 Jacob Drum. All rights reserved.

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