Sturgeon Bay Shipyards in Winter

a photograph by Ethel Mortenson Davis


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.


Filed under Art, Ethel Mortenson Davis, Photography


by Ethel Mortenson Davis

The threads
on the hem of the skirt
have been pulled out,
leaving the earth
jagged and uneven,
like the trapper
this morning
ripping the fox
from the trap
after crushing its skull,
leaving the lake’s edge

Threads pulled out.

that bound us
that morning
as a gray fox
sprang in front of us,
a delightful look on his face
as he carried his prey in his mouth.

Threads that pulled us
to the earth’s bosom,
holding us to a cherished breast.


Filed under Ethel Mortenson Davis, Poetry


a photograph by Kevin Michael Davis, our son, Alazanto)



Filed under Art, Photography

ANMSI’s Moment of Decision

by Thomas Davis

Inside a dark cave,
looking at blinding light
through a waterfall’s curtain
that thunders into a pool that cannot be seen,
decisions dance into possibilities,
fracturing into edges
leading into an infinity of paths,
some dark, some dazzled light,
some thundering with water.

Inside this moment, at the dinner table,
decisions dance inside a spirituality
that has no words, but follows pathways
snaking from this moment, this center,
into a future bound into the cave’s darkness
beyond the waterfall’s curtain and thunder.

Somehow, through discussion, conflict, planning,
songs of voices telling what they know and believe
and what they remember in racial/cultural memory
and what they have remembered in their lives,
ANMSI has come down from the mountain
through a dark cave, Blacks, Hispanics, Indians
a mosaic that stands at the cusp, in this moment,
looking at the waterfall,
feeling the cave’s darkness,
transversed in the voyage of intense conversation
against the indifference of the national soul.

And what does this moment mean?
The darkness? The waterfall? The future
fracturing into the infinity of paths?

I remember shining hope
in the beginnings of the journey into the cave.
I remember days so heady with movement
the journey’s darkness filled with light
brighter and more glorious than the sun of any day.
I remember anger dark with emptiness and confusion.
I remember conversations between races and cultures
that sometimes, around edges not seen
by anyone speaking or hearing the words spoken,
trembled toward the possibility
of an American nation that could be.

And so, we sit here this night
after a day of meetings and voices
singing black, Hispanic, Indian, white words,
sitting at a dinner table
waiting for food, lit by candlelight,
looking out of darkness toward light.

As voices murmur into the conversation
that makes humankind human,
in the presence of the land community
that lives outside of conversation,
the question of this nation spins
upon the cusp, this moment,
in the candlelight of a dinner table waiting for food.

Note: ANMSI was an organization, Advanced Networking for Minority Serving Institutions, that I helped found. This was written in Washington DC during a time when discussions were going on between tribal, black, and Hispanic colleges and universities about trying to find funding to keep the organization going. That effort eventually failed.


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Into the Icy Lake at Sunset

a photograph by Rick Wood, our son in law

Rick Wood


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Winter Solstice

by Ethel Mortenson Davis

She rolled
up the mat,
turned out
the lights,
and we are plunged
into darkness.

December is like
living in a cave,
but the earth
will not hear of it,

unfolds her fetal position
in her darkened room
and allows light to emerge
longer in the morning
and afternoon—

Sunlight able
to warm our deepest bones.


Filed under Ethel Mortenson Davis, Poetry


a pastel by Ethel Mortenson Davis

loon 001


Filed under Art, Art by Ethel Mortenson Davis, Ethel Mortenson Davis