Tag Archives: sinister

The Abandonment of Washington Island By the Island’s Black Community in the 1850s

A French Sonnet

by Thomas Davis

Gone. Like the waves grasshoppers make
Before a boy who runs into a field of weeds,
The news raced through the island as the seeds
Of mystery began to reawake
The sense that something sinister, a snake,
Is in the emptiness that almost pleads
To hear the shouts of children, men whose deeds
Had made glad days of freedom by the lake.

Where did they go? Why did they have to flee?
The island people said, “It is a mystery.”

When Craw’s barn burned, the chill was palpable,
And now the black community is gone.
The news was like a fire, insatiable;
They took their fishing boats and fled at dawn.

The mystery of the disappearance of seven black families, presumably run-away slaves, from Washington Island in the 1850s still persists today.


Filed under poems, Poetry, Thomas Davis, Uncategorized