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

Mae V. Cowdery, "A Prayer" (1928)

A Prayer

By Mae V. Cowdery 

I saw a dark boy
     Trudging on the road
(Twas’ a dreary road Blacker than night).
     Oft times he'd stumble
And stagger 'neath his burden
     But still he kept trudging
Along that dreary road.

I heard a dark boy
     Singing as he passed
Oft times he'd laugh
     But still a tear
Crept thru his song,
     As he kept trudging
Along that weary road .

I saw a long white mist roll down
     And cover all the earth
(There wasn't even a shadow
     To tell it was night).
And then there came an echo . . . .
 . . . . Footsteps of a dark boy
Still climbing on the way.

A song with its tear
     And then a prayer
From the lips of a dark boy
     Struggling thru the fog.
Oft times I'd hear

     The lashing of a whip
And then a voice would cry to heaven
     “Lord! . . . Lord!
     Have mercy! . . . . mercy!”
And still that bleeding body
     Pushed onward thru the fog .
Song . . . . Tears . . . . Blood . . . . Prayer
     Throbbing thru the mist.

The mist rolled by
     And the sun shone fair,
Fair and golden
     On a dark boy . . . . cold and still
High on a bare bleak tree
     His face upturned to heaven
His soul upraised in song
     “Peace. . . . Peace
     Rest in the Lord.”

Oft times in the twilight
     I can hear him still singing
As he walks in the heavens,
     A song without a tear
A prayer without a plea.

Lord, lift me up to the purple sky
     That lays its hand of stars
Tenderly on my bowed head
     As I kneel high on this barren hill.
My song holds naught but tears
     My prayer is but a plea
Lord take me to the clouds
     To sleep . . . to sleep.

Published in The Crisis, September 1928

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