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

Jessie Fauset, "Words! Words!" (1926)

How did it happen that we quarreled?
We two who loved each other so!
Only the moment before we were one,
Using the language that lovers know.
And then of a sudden, a word, a phrase
That struck at the heart like a poignard’s blow.
And you went beserk, and I saw red,
And love lay between us, bleeding and dead!
Dead! When we loved each other so!

How could it happen that we quarreled!
Think of the things we used to say!
“What does it matter, dear, what you do?
Love such as ours has to last for aye!”
—“Try me! I love to ensure your test!”
—“Love, we shall always love, come what may!”
What are the words the apostle saith?
“In the power of the tongue are Life and Death!”
Think of the things we used to say!

Published in Palms, October 1926
Also published in Caroling Dusk, 1927