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

Jean Toomer, "November Cotton Flower" (1923)

Boll-weevil's coming, and the winter’s cold,
Made cotton-stalks look rusty, seasons old,
And cotton, scarce as any southern snow,
Was vanishing; the branch, so pinched and slow,
Failed in its function as the autumn rake;
Drouth fighting soil had caused the soil to take
All water from the streams; dead birds were found
In wells a hundred feet below the ground—
Such was the season when the flower bloomed.
Old folks were startled, and it soon assumed
Significance. Superstition saw
Something it had never seen before:
Brown eyes that loved without a trace of fear,
Beauty so sudden for that time of year.

"November Cotton Flower" was first published in The Nomad 2, in Summer 1923.
Published in Cane, 1923
Also published in Caroling Dusk, 1927