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The Marjorie E. Peale Prize

Ellen McNeal

 

Day

Lord: it’s oppressive, the heat is intense.
Open the skies, give us some rain, let it pour
on our shoulders; cows lying down wait.

Let thunder roll overhead; remember
these fields once sown with corn and with cotton,
the black backs of pickers, bent and obliged,
sunflowers more perfect than any Van Gogh.

Whoever labors under the sun needs
a bucket, a cloud burst, a ladle.
Whoever walks home to an empty house
knows no commiseration; knows only
the chair on his porch, a bed, and tomorrow.