by Thomas Davis
Inflamed Imagining: Freedom
Inside the swamp, beside a cypress tree,
White herons in the water, bullfrog croaks
A symphony as dusk, as stealthily
As cat’s feet stalking small, shy birds, evokes
The coming night, the Preacher slowly stokes
The fire blazed in his heart and starts to sing
Songs powerful enough to loosen yokes
White masters forged through endless menacing.
The words he’d use burned deep; he felt their sting
And saw his spirit fire alive in eyes
Awake to dreams, inflamed imagining
Of days spent free beneath glad years of skies.
The darkness deepened underneath the tree.
He’d preach, he thought, then, later on, they’d flee.
Freedom’s First Night, Before Dawn
A Miltonian Sonnet with Two Coda
The white man, with his wide brimmed hat and face
Stunned pale inside a night that breathed with sounds
From woods they’d passed through in their frantic race
Against the coming dawn, turned back around
To look toward the barn that loomed ahead
Of where six families hid in scratchy brush.
He sighed as if he couldn’t flee the dread
He felt in dark before dawn’s first red blush.
“I made a space to hide you runaways,”
He said. He turned again and looked at eyes
That looked at him, cold fear a noxious glaze
Infecting even how the dreaded sun would rise.
“Six families can’t escape at once,” he said.
“I’ve got my family too. They’re still in bed.”
The Preacher looked into the man.
His eyes looked past white outer flesh
Into the place his soul began.
The white man turned again, the mesh
Of eyes surrounding him afraid
To move, to dream, to think they’d leave
This place before their master flayed
Their spirits, made their spirits grieve.
Note: I’ve included two sonnets from my series on Washington Island’s black community that existed in the 1800s here. I’ve posted others in the series earlier, although they were not written originally in a chronological order, so they represent how they are written, not how they should appear. I didn’t know what I was doing at first. However, the owner of the Fair Isle Bookstore on Washington Island convinced me to write a book about the 1800s black community since no books on that topic exist. I thought about it, did some research, found some primary source documents, but they were not enough to produce a non-fiction work. This series of sonnets began to expand. Then I started writing a novel, which is in progress, with a sonnet ahead of each chapter. These are the first two chapter heading sonnets in the novel.