Morning, Wednesday, October 1, 1919: The Cotton Fields And Sharecropper Homes Off Of Highway 44, Near Hoop Spur Church, Become The First Major Killing Field Of The Massacre.
Traveling south on foot leading cars to follow –
Beyond daybreak, still morning, dew just dried
Against canebrakes – the posses seek motion,
Any motion, and turn off Highway 44 into
Enpocked roads where the sharecroppers stir
And then burst loose upon the shattering sounds
Of rifle fire descending on racing bodies toward
The slough, thickets, a coppice, and as far as
The woods, if only they can get there in time.
Black bodies are falling like corn stalks under
A machete, as they rise from lairs with arms
Stretched high to give themselves up – peace
Instead of terms and snares; still more are
Cut down with appeals echoing faintly below
Gun blasts stifling final pleas, final calls.
Confining children’s steps caught behind most,
Fathers live or die finding refuge for a family,
As mothers wait too long for sons to return home.
One cannot survey the sounds, but it is sound
That gives an answer today; for it signals
The place and the who and the hunting left
Among the cotton fields, which stand as a calm
And alternate universe to those now bleeding
Or dying or those, who call themselves white
And who continue to scream and pull triggers
In one constant rolling feat. This was the first
Day; no one took the trouble to count or subtract.