Betsy Ross’ Girl


Tried to put in some

orchid purple yellow, and some

coffee colored brown

like my fingers I pricked

helping with all her stichin.


“Nah,” she say,

“keep it like the Brits,

our forefathers.”


None of that tobacco green

she threaten to put me in

should I open my mouth

bout how Master

have his way with me.


None of that

sunrise orange

come over the water

like my Mammy’s boat



Just the blood red

with the deep blue

and the white stars

like the night

that swallowed up my daddy

took him north to freedom,

I hope.

In addition to writing poetry, Deborah Turner is working on a memoir about her life in West Philadelphia. Her early works appear in the Lavender Reader as well as in anthologies including the Body Eclectic and Testimony. She regularly blog publishes at