Emerging Into Freedom

by Thomas Davis

Waves rolled with curving lines into the shore.
Lake Michigan horizoned into sky.
They watched a dark brown, white crowned osprey soar
Above the waves and heard its hunting cry.

Inside pinched spirits chained by slavery
And endless hours of suffocating fear,
Bonds loosened as the dream and fantasy
Of freedom suddenly seemed real, so near
To where they stood above the giant lake
They were not sure they had not reached a future
Aware of who they were, the earth awake
To spirits that had passed through deadly danger.

Inside the distant swamp they’d been but slaves.
They stood upon a hill and listened to the waves.
Note: I have been working on a novel about a black fisherman community founded on Washington Island prior to the Civil War in the wilderness of Wisconsin. This is the eleventh sonnet published here that heads chapters in the novel. I have made slow progress, but the novel keeps expanding, so we’ll see if I have the energy and capability of finishing it. I am less than half way through at this point.


Filed under poems, Poetry, Thomas Davis

8 responses to “Emerging Into Freedom

  1. Excellent poem my friend.. Good luck and best wishes with your book x

  2. Another triumph, Thomas. I especially love the image that the first quatrain weaves, the coinage of “horizon” as a verb, and that inspired phrase “pinched spirits.”
    Having paused over your son’s photograph of Cascade Falls and read about your up-coming pilgrimage to New Mexico, I can imagine it will be a spiritual as well as physical journey and I hope it will yield blessings.

  3. I too like this very much Thomas. As ever, the human focus is strong, but at the same time you place your people in a wholly convincing landscape – one I don’t know but can see and hear and even smell from your lines in this and the other sonnets.
    (May I risk a tiny doubt about ‘deadly danger? Does the adjective, ironically, weaken the noun?)
    I love the details in these lines, especially perhaps that osprey and the closing lines picturing the people on that hill listening to those waves. Keep going!

  4. Sounds like a good book in the works. Aloha!

  5. Beautifully written, Thomas. Your imagery once again stirs the ancient yearning spirit in us all, as well as appealing to the senses. You place the reader there, in person. Will look forward to more – and more.

    Wishing you a wonderful trip to NM – on all levels of your being.

  6. A quiet paean to freedom, culminating in that final couplet:

    “Inside the distant swamp they’d been but slaves.
    They stood upon a hill and listened to the waves.”

    A perfect ending.

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