Whiteness

by Ethel Mortenson Davis

On earth
there are no elements
here of humankind
that work in harmony,

but in the whiteness
of snow there are.
The whiteness is like
no other white.

The snowshoe rabbit
this morning looked
brown against it.

White is holy.
It fights back
the grayness
that is human

and wins —
for a few moments.

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Lake Michigan Ice and Shore

photographs by Ethel Mortenson Davis

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cave point 002

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Sitting on a Bench Waiting for the End of Winter

by Thomas Davis

Time hides in words spoke on the radio,
Inside newspaper columns gray with print.
The young girl, in the winter, watched the flow
Of snow wisps on the lake, her dreams intent
Upon the booming chunks of gleaming ice
That spring would heave on shore, great, white walls, cold
In spite of how the sun thawed sacrifice
From frozen ground and hazed the air with gold.

The young girl took her radio outside
And read the paper sitting on a bench
As winter waited for the moon-stirred tide
To free warm waters from its icy clench.

The young girl waited on her bench for spring
When she and ice and all the world would sing.

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Still Winter, Cave Point

Photographs by Ethel Mortenson Davis

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Two Roads

by Ethel Mortenson Davis

I can’t remember
when I learned
to love animals,
but it was when
I was very young,

along with my three sisters.

Perhaps it started
when we were called
good-for-nothing girls,
forcing us toward
the animals.

It was where I learned
animals love their young
as much as we love
ours,

when the mother cow,
desperate that night,
cried in low,
hysterical bellows
for her dead calf.

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Face in the Trees

a photograph by Rick Wood, our son-in-law

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The Ballad of the Barn

by Thomas Davis

“They’ve always been half nuts,” she said.
He frowned, looked pained, and shook his head.
 
“No matter what, they’re still my brothers,”
He said.  “I almost hear my mother’s
Exasperation as she thinks
About the neighbor’s tongues, the stink
They’ve put the family in again.”
 
As pretty as an elf, her grin
Lit up her face and dark green eyes.
She looked up at the winter skies.
“Storms come and go,” she said, “and tongues
Will wag as long as songs are sung.”
 
“But Willie drove the tractor through
The barn’s west wall,” he wailed.
 
“The brew
That Sammy brews could make a knave
Out of a saint inside his grave,”
She laughed.  “They had a high old time
Until their words became a crime
Against their sense, and Sammy blocked
The barn door, shotgun ready, cocked. . .”
 
“The tractor didn’t even stall,” he said.
“It smashed right through the wall and fled
Into the fields as Sammy laughed
As if he’d taken up witchcraft
And addled who he was and sent
His soul into dark devilment.”
 
“They’ve lived together all these years,”
She said.  “They’re old now.  Human fears
Stalk dreams and make them long to see
A day when aching bones are free
Of pain, and memories aren’t lost
With morning dew or winter frost.”
 
“You give them credit when I’d like
To treat them like two kids and strike
Them with a pliant willow switch.
The tractor’s wrecked inside a ditch,
The barn’s west wall is half a hole. . .”
 
She stopped him with her hand, a droll
Look sparking flitting feelings shuttered
Like screens across her face.  He muttered,
Alarmed at how she looked at him.
He’d never felt so ill or grim.
 
“They’re old enough. . .”
 
She shook her head.
“They’re ninety eight years old,” she said.
“What is a tractor or a barn?
Ten grandkids hence, they’ll tell this yarn.”
 
He startled, grinned, chagrinned, and said,
“My mother’s neighbors are all dead.”

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