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

Jean Toomer, "Reapers" (1923)

Black reapers with the sound of steel on stones
Are sharpening scythes. I see them place the hones  
In their hip-pockets as a thing that’s done,   
And start their silent swinging, one by one.   
Black horses drive a mower through the weeds,   
And there, a field rat, startled, squealing bleeds.   
His belly close to ground. I see the blade,   
Blood-stained, continue cutting weeds and shade.

Published in Cane (1923)
Also published in Caroling Dusk (1927)