Lynchers

A poem by Madison Julius Cawein

At the moon's down-going let it be
On the quarry hill with its one gnarled tree.

The red-rock road of the underbrush,
Where the woman came through the summer hush.

The sumac high and the elder thick,
Where we found the stone and the ragged stick.

The trampled road of the thicket, full
Of footprints down to the quarry pool.

The rocks that ooze with the hue of lead,
Where we found her lying stark and dead.

The scraggy wood; the negro hut,
With its doors and windows locked and shut.

A secret signal; a foot's rough tramp;
A knock at the door; a lifted lamp.

An oath; a scuffle; a ring of masks;
A voice that answers a voice that asks.

A group of shadows; the moon's red fleck;
A running noose and a man's bared neck.

A word, a curse, and a shape that swings;
The lonely night and a bat's black wings.

At the moon's down-going let it be
On the quarry hill with its one gnarled tree.

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