Before Midnight, Wednesday, October 1, 1919: Sharecropper Frank Moore, His Mother, Wife, And Children Hide In Rivercane A Short Distance East Of The Killing Fields.
Daybreak will come with another round
Of vengeance, another onslaught, only worse,
With more rifles, more posses, fat meanness
And sins. The cane, thick as it is, cannot
Keep us; children will rustle, and white
Demons will tag us, for we have no place
Nor sanctum but for hell or heaven. My wife
Mary sobs every few minutes and tells us
We’re bound for Jesus and for glory-time.
Dying can’t be too far away for any sort,
Here and silent, or even by longer walks.
Be with us, Lord; give us space and closer
Homes. I don’t worry about gray nights –
The crickets, a safe breeze, and soft moon
Flushes comfort this panic, square and sharp
Angled, heating up while we wait for more
Morning to pile up its open traps or careless
Ways, which shall gather us and drive us on.
Let me sleep until it is then time to pass.
Let me sleep until I whisper long the last
Loving word to the last child that will go
Missing in Govan’s Slough, folded over
By mud and the haphazard rummage of
A year’s harvest. Let them murmur back
Of glee and splendor, a celebration of one
Breathful memory – nothing false, vile;
Let them be a child at the merciless end.