Home  »  The Book of American Negro Poetry  »  The Washer-Woman

James Weldon Johnson, ed. (1871–1938). The Book of American Negro Poetry. 1922.

The Washer-Woman

A GREAT swart cheek and the gleam of tears,

The flutter of hopes and the shadow of fears,

And all day long the rub and scrub

With only a breath betwixt tub and tub.

Fool! Thou hast toiled for fifty years

And what hast thou now but thy dusty tears?

In silence she rubbed … But her face I had seen,

Where the light of her soul fell shining and clean.