Sambo's Grave

I listened for the liberty bell,
half past three it would sound
and I would run to mum
in the playground,
and I would pull her
to the corner shop,
old penny in my hand,
worn and black with
Britannia on its back,
looking out to sea, our sea.

I asked the old shopkeeper
for the penny tray of sweets,
and he would lift it like a salver
from beneath the counter,
and I would point to my choice,
one Catherine wheel,
two sherbets,
three fruit salads,
and my favourite,
four black sambos
made from liquorice and sugar.

I can see the innocuous wrapper
around my favourite, a black boy's
smiling face, happy as larry,
my dad would say, happy as
larry just like you my boy.

After my dad died my mum
tied the knot again
and we went to live in Morecambe
and one day we visited a local
beauty spot called
Sunderland Point, a bleak
place that once had an
Atlantic face looking out
to the sea, our sea.

And there I came across
a solitary grave, no neighbours
to speak of, a grave
belonging to Sambo
according to the belated
headstone, a black slave
boy who died alone
by the sea, our sea.

The now hallowed ground
bore flowers as fresh
as the westerly wind
and bowed towards
the sweet child below,
who put them there
I did not know, but
later I heard that
local kids wrapped
floral chains around
Sambo's grave
by the sea, his sea.

Poetry by Christopher Fernie
Read 128 times
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Written on 2020-06-18 at 11:56

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ken d williams The PoetBay support member heart!
At first seeing the tittle, I well was not happy not happy at all! Then I put my misgiving on neutral. And read the work having the work. I found the work exultant. Reminded of two storys one local to me. Of an African who may of been a suvivor of a shipwrek, dating back to after slavery. He became a chariter of Ramsgate, locals back then, this were about 1890. Cald him Sambo, NOT given with abouse in mind. Yes a friendly way used.
Other story is a news item. At the seasure bottom of cclifts of Deven. A number scatical remains were fund, many in chaines. Suspekted to be those of salvs thrown overbpud of a slave ship.
Christopher (Fernie) work an exalant work, a very teling work.
Ken D

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Thomas D The PoetBay support member heart!
Wow, sir. Devastating and beautiful all at once. A fine, fine poem.