The Octoroon

One drop of midnight in the dawn of life’s pulsating stream
Marks her an alien from her kind, a shade amid its gleam.
Forevermore her step she bends, insular, strange, apart—
And none can read the riddle of her strangely warring heart.
The stormy current of her blood beats like a mighty sea
Against the man-wrought iron bars of her captivity.
For refuge, succor, peace, and rest, she seeks that humble fold
Whose every breath is kindliness, whose hearts are purest gold.

This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on February 18, 2024, by the Academy of American Poets.