Sharecroppers

Ryan Wilson

Fall 2018

They do their work, and they are strong enough.
They pluck all morning, and all afternoon,
Prizing from thorns a blizzard of soft stuff
That brings them bread until the hunter’s moon
Calls them away from homes they’ve held on loan,
And days in fields of light they didn’t own.
 
Unknown in life, the fog of generations
Obscures my people now, dark silhouettes
Looming, enormous, in imagination’s
Unearthly fields, where what the land forgets
Persists. Faceless, they go on, the forgotten
Whose blood is mine, whose name is my own name,
In radiant ghost-light, still picking cotton.
I join them now, on whom time has no claim.

Ryan Wilson is the editor of Literary Matters and the author of The Stranger World (Measure Press, 2017), winner of the Donald Justice Poetry Prize. His work has appeared in Birmingham Poetry Review, First Things, Five Points, the Hopkins Review, the New Criterion, the Yale Review, and Best American Poetry. He teaches at the Catholic University of America.

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