Cedar Trunk


a photograph by Ethel Mortenson Davis

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Wrinkled Skin

by Ethel Mortenson Davis

This morning
the trunks of cedar trees
felt skin-like,
looking like wrinkled
elephant skin —

elephants cornered
throughout Africa,
poached, killed
for money.

One man spent most
Of his life protecting them.

When he died recently,
the elephants walked
in single-file to his house
where he lay in state,
circling his house and
staying for some time.

Animals and birds know
when people want to
protect them,
show grace and gratitude.

They wait for us to save them,

the animals,
the cedars,
the wrinkled skin.


Filed under Ethel Mortenson Davis, poems, Poetry

“By God, They’re Protecting Salamanders Rather Than Human Beings!”

comment heard in a restaurant in Sturgeon Bay Wisconsin
by Thomas Davis
An Italian Sonnet
When Darwin saw gradation in a finch
That flits about Galapagous[1], he saw
One species modified in beak and claw
By choices made adapting to the flinch
Of circumstances born out of the wrench
Of geologic time, the pitch and yaw
Of land and ocean, weather systems raw
With winds that shape the land that rainstorms drench.
But in his old age earthworms sang the song
That sirened through the studies that he did[2],
The deaf and blind regurgitator dug
Into plain ground turned soil, the endless round
Of earth built by the living plows that slid
Fecundity out of the realm of slugs.

[1] Darwin traveled to the Galapagos Islands on a ship named Beagle where he developed the theory of evolution out of his observations of the gradations between a number of species, including a finch.
[2] Earthworms was Darwin’s last book, published on 10 October 1881, just six months before he died.


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Sunset Clouds

a photo essay by Sonja Bingen, our daughter

Sunset and Storm1

Sunset and Storm3

Sunset and Storm4

Sunset and Storm6


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by Ethel Mortenson Davis

An old man leaves
a federal prison,
free at last.
He has spent
most of his life
behind bars
for a crime
he did not commit.

The air is as sweet
as any he has known.
He steps into freedom.

This morning
a white butterfly,
with black accents
I could not identify,
was caught in a spider’s web.

I pulled him from
his bondage.
He was still alive
and eager to fly.

He flew into the forest
rich with oxygen,
a freedom he had thought
would never again be his.

And there in the sundrenched trees
he became giddy
on pulsing, cooling waves of air.


Filed under Ethel Mortenson Davis, poems, Poetry

Butterflies and Power

kevin butteflies

A graphic by Alazanto, Kevin Davis, our son,


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Troubled Waters

a pastel by Ethel Mortenson Davis


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