Sonnets by Thomas Davis
The Miracle Inside a Storm from Hell
Their misery growing as they splashed through streams
And felt huge clouds above the battered trees
That flung down branches as the sorceries
Of wind and hunger screamed and screamed, and screams
Into their fears, their hatred, useless dreams
The Preacher cultivated with an ease
That wasn’t true, not when the miseries
Of hell danced in the storm’s wild, fierce extremes.
And then, as if inside a miracle,
They reached a lonely church, the raging storm
So fierce they quailed inside its crucible,
And knew the light of God, their spirits warm,
The dreams the Preacher preached so lyrical
It made them feel, inside their hell, reborn.
Inside the Turning Wheels of Time
Inside the rhythm of the wagon’s wheels,
The Preacher, with his people crammed beside
Him underneath a false floorboard, untied
His consciousness from who he was, ordeals
He’d face for years now in the past, and reels
Of rainbow light exploded, amplified
A vision where he felt Ezekiel’s tide
Of prophecies burn like a fire that heals.
He saw his Promised Land, boats filled with fish,
A land of gardens lush as men could wish,
And in the garden of his vision, black
As midnight skies, a shining Adam spoke
A chant so sibilant with grace the almanac
Of hours turned like the wagon wheel’s spokes.
Note: These two sonnets continue the series that constitute the beginnings of chapters in a book on a black community that existed on Washington Island before the coming of the Civil War. These sonnets are part of the sequence that deals with the escape of people from the community from the plantations where they were enslaved. The sonnets are written using a mixture of sonnet forms. “The Miracle Inside a Storm from Hell” is a Spenserian sonnet. “Inside the Turning Wheels of Time” is a French sonnet.