African American Poetry (1870-1928): A Digital Anthology

Adolescence by Claude McKay

There was a time when in late afternoon
     The four-o’clocks would fold up at day’s close
Pink-white in prayer, and ‘neath the floating moon
     I lay with them in calm and sweet repose.

And in the open spaces I could sleep,
     Half-naked to the shining worlds above;
Peace came with sleep and sleep was long and
Gained without effort, sweet like early love.

But now no balm— nor drug nor weed nor wine—
     Can bring true rest to cool my body’s fever,
Nor sweeten in my mouth the acid brine,
     That salts my choicest drink and will forever.

(Edited and Proofread by Brenda Martinez)
(From Harlem Shadows)

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