The swinging bridge

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Under the swinging bridge flows the old canal 

Bridgewater canal built in 1761 to carry coal to Manchester

To fuel the industrial revolution, the black Satanic mills

Full of women workers on their first step to emancipation
And on one late summer day one sailor met one mill girl
She reminded him that joy came after trouble.

Manchester at night was a strange stage for their love affair

'Town' rang out with laudunum and tincture of opium fuelled debauchery
On these nights Jenny and Cyril found a quiet cemetery for their love-making

Hand in hand, face to face, the sailor and the mill girl

Scurry over the swinging bridge, heads down, collars raised
While under the bridge black water mixed with red iron deposits
There were no waves.

Jenny and Cyril's love does not spill away like running water

But remains constant with locks of hair lovingly entwined in lockets
Love could so easily have flown away
But it decided to stay.

In Jenny and Cyril's hidden life it was not possible for Jenny to be the wife of a blackamoor sailor man
So Jenny and Cyril stay hidden

Until at the Quaker chapel on the 28th October 1787, they met Thomas Clarkson an anti-slavery campaigner, and a good man

Clarkson took Jen and Cyril under his care and they were protected by the Abolitionists

Jen and Cyril helped Clarkson research the issue of slavery

Advising him to show the British people the metal instruments of torture used to control and punish slaves

Wilberforce showed these instruments to a shocked House of Commons

Setting in motion the steps that would lead to  the abolition of slavery

When Jenny and Cyril were grey and old they walked over the swinging bridge together. 


◄ Just deserts

Pain ►


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Mae Foreman

Thu 7th Feb 2019 11:47

I love a prose poem! This one is a great one too! Love the story!
Hoorah for John!
Thank you🎈

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Dave Caplan

Mon 4th Feb 2019 14:02

A poignant reminder of the hardships faced by our forebears.
Sad and enlightening.

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Mon 4th Feb 2019 13:56

A serious and illuminating story told with sensitivity and gravitas John. It feels a little like D H Lawrence in the telling. It makes some important judgments.


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Mon 4th Feb 2019 04:29

What beautiful prose that tells an important story. It should be made into a movie! 💖

steven arthur

Mon 4th Feb 2019 03:57

beautiful poem full of gravitas

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