In 1773, Phillis Wheatley’s Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral appeared print. Ever since the publication of her book of neoclassic verse, the African-born poet has been a controversial figure in American History. At the center of the controversy is the question of whether or not the mother of the African American literary tradition criticized slavery. While some scholars have denounced Wheatley for not addressing the institution; others argue that her work represented a subtle critique. Ironically, missing in this discourse are the poet’s diacritical marks that underscores not only the power of words to mean, but also subversive readings — both of which are the focus of this essay.