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

Two Who Crossed a Line (She Crosses) by Countee Cullen

From where she stood the air she craved
   Smote with the smell of pine;
It was too much to bear; she braved
   Her gods and crossed the line.

And we were hurt to see her go,
   With her fair face and hair,
And veins too thin and blue to show
   What mingled blood flowed there.

We envied her a while, who still
   Pursued the hated track ;
Then we forgot her name, until
   One day her shade came back.

Calm as a wave without a crest,
   Sorrow-proud and sorrow-wise,
With trouble sucking at her breast,
   With tear-disdainful eyes,

She slipped into her ancient place,
   And, no word asked, gave none;
Only the silence in her face
   Said seats were dear in the sun.

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