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

Carrie Williams Clifford, "Little Mother (Upon the Lynching of Mary Turner" (1922)

Editor's Note

(Upon the lynching of Mary Turner)
Oh, tremble, Little Mother,
For your dark-eyed, unborn babe,
Whom in your secret heart you've named
The well-loved name of "Gabe."
    For Gabriel is the father's name,
    And the son is sure to be
    "Just like his father!" as she wants
    The whole, wide world to see!
But tremble, Little Mother,
For your unborn baby's fate;
The father tarries long away
Why does he stay so late?
    For dark the night and weird the wind,
    And chilled the heart with fear!
    What are those hideous sounds and cries
    Each instant drawing near?
Oh, tremble, dark-faced mother,
At the dreadful word that falls
From lips of pale-faced demons,
As the black man pleads and calls.
    For they're dragging Gabe, at a stout rope's end,
    And they say, "She is bound to tell!"
    Something she knows not a thing about,
    Or they'll "Give her the same as well!"
Oh, tremble, helpless mother!
They're beating down the door,
And you'll never feel the father's kiss,
Or the stir of the baby more.

    Oh, the human beasts were ruthless,
    And there upon the ground,
    Two bodies--and an unborn babe--
    The ghastly morning found.

Published in The Widening Light, 1922

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