Sturgeon Bay Harbor

a photograph by Ethel Mortenson Davis

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Poems

by Ethel Mortenson Davis

The universe
throws out poems
across the stars,

but only the poet
catches them.

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Waves

a pastel by Ethel Mortenson Davis

Waves

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A Lover’s Song

by Thomas Davis

We strung along a priceless string of stars
And made the moon a pendant just to show.
I cut the night into a dress, the bars
Of moonlight setting stars and dress aglow.

You laughed with love deep in your doe-brown eyes.
You swirled the universe upon your hem.
As dizzy as a lover filled with love’s first lies,
I watched your eyes grow dazzled by your gems.
 
Then, with a shrug, your dress fell to the ground.
The night became a puddle at your feet.
Stars glistened in a heap, their skies cut down.
The moon gleamed silver-cold without your heat.
 
We swirled together deep into the night,
Our years illuminated, blazing light.

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The Cook

by Ethel Mortenson Davis

What is this chef, this cook
that comes to gather
strung out, grumbling
friends and relatives?
 
Is she not a mere merchant
of the kitchen?
An employee of a restaurant?
 
But no, I think.
A magician or alchemist,
one who binds up the disgruntled
by cooking magic.
 
Her creations stir in
the hearts of these people
a language of love
they had never felt before,
or ever will again.
 
Why, these two are speaking
when they haven’t for years.
 
I think it must have been
that rare French wine, or,
perhaps that unusual, roasted
animal from the forest.

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The Old Man and Woman Talk About Wisdom

by Thomas Davis

“There is no such thing,” he says. “We are emotional beings.
Our thoughts get wrapped into the brain’s primitive centers
and get confused with ego, flight and fight responses, love, hope,
the stuff that makes us human beings.”

“Hmmph!” the old woman replies.
“You’re getting old, old man.
You don’t even notice pretty young girls anymore.”

“Answer me then,” he says calmly.  “Tell me about wisdom.”

“It’s like poetry,” she answers, smiling.
“You find in-between moments:
The flash of light off a burrow owl’s spotted wings
as sunrise first filters sunlight over the horizon.”

He was silent for a long time,
thinking about her answer.

“I thought wisdom was about human understanding,”
he says at last.   “About coming to a point in life
when all the mysteries, death, war, love, the universe,
become acceptable past emotion and thought.”

“Acceptance comes from the flash of light,
the owl, the movement of wings,” she says.
“It comes from an old man and an old woman
on a winter Sunday afternoon sitting
in front of the living room’s windows while sun
shines on the parquet floor and warms the house.”

He smiles.  “I would have thought it was
about puzzling out the light, owl, wings, sunlight, and warmth
and subscribing human understanding to them.”

She ponders, then smiles too.

“Perhaps a human moment,” she says.
“But the earth is already wise:
Ocean waves crash on black rocks, birds fly, dogs bark, trees grow,
and dinosaurs leave their bones in rocks.
That’s what we have.  That’s what we are.”

“Who we are?” he asks sharply.

“No, what we are,” she says.
“Listen to your heart’s rhythm, how it beats in time to time,
how time passes into light glancing off a burrow owl’s wings,
in my eyes that look into your eyes
and the smiles lingering into old age.”

He shakes his head and laughs.
“Into human thought trying to make sense
of where light comes from.”

“While light is,” she says.

“While light is.”

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Sturgeon Bay Shipyards in Winter

a photograph by Ethel Mortenson Davis

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Every winter Great Lakes ships come to the Sturgeon Bay Shipyards for refurbishing after a long season on the water. This year 16 ships, small to large, have come into the harbor and been parked at the Shipyards in the Bay’s ice.

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