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

Allison Davis, "Fighters" (1928)

These of the coal-black faces
Confide, low-voiced,
Fisherman, washerwoman,
Quietly shutting themselves off From the pool-room loafers.

By the salt spume of the sea,
Tight-lipped against the whispering fears of age,
He holds her laughing.

In his keen eyes
The gleam of one who knows he must endure
All shifting winds,
And hate
Of deep-embittered sons of slaving race,
Must outreach
The hunger of insatiate women,
And broken nets at sea.

Her brave face
Softens in a smile 
And light of youth's long hopes and passion
Sunk away.
But she has seasoned in her proper time
And grown to mellow laughter.
Like some far runner turning with new vigor

Now she is firm
Against the tearings of untimely births,
And sweating steam of clothes;
Firm now, at last,
Against the pleading smiles
Of brutal, melancholy,
Rich-voiced men. 

Published in Opportunity, June 1928

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