African American Poetry (1870-1927): A Digital Anthology

Claude McKay, "Absence" (1922)

Your words dropped into my heart like pebbles into a pool,
Rippling around my breast and leaving it melting cool.
Your kisses fell sharp on my flesh like dawn-dews from the limb
Of a fruit-filled lemon tree when the day is young and dim.
Like soft rain-christened sunshine, as fragile as rare gold lace,
Your breath, sweet-scented and warm, has kindled my tranquil face.
But a silence vasty-deep, oh deeper than all these ties
Now, through the menacing miles, brooding between us lies.
And more than the songs I sing, I await your written word,
To stir my fluent blood as never your presence stirred.

Published in Harlem Shadows1922
Also published in Caroling Dusk1927