Sonnets 4, 8, and 24

by Thomas Davis


Three children, daughters and a son, each one
so precious that they sang alive our days,
extending who we were into a sun-
filled destiny where joy and love and praise
would always spin out like a spool of string
into the future where we’d live in glory.

So many memories: The girls on swings,
our son enraptured by a funny story,
the kind of living fashioned from the touch
of life on life, from parents into child,
the common daily motions that are such
a part of who we humans are, selves tiled

into a kaleidoscope of moment histories
defining love, our deepest human mystery.


To Mary

As tiny, delicate as butterflies,
she sleeps inside the tent they’ve put her in.
Too young for whooping cough, her breathing, cries,
are fluttering, her living stretching thin
across the fact that she’s too young, too new
to face what is a harsh reality.
A second daughter, miracle so true
she opens up a universe to be.
Her mother spends a night, two nights, tense hours
of waiting, waiting for her breath to clear.

When those you love are threatened, all the towers
of hope constructed when you’re free of fear

are held suspended, waiting for the charm
of holding one small baby in your arms.


To Sonja

As beautiful as autumn maple leaves,
Vesuvius fires locked deep inside her bones,
she finds the strength to face her trials and weave
a rising from the place where she’s been thrown.
Sometimes her fires stir up a sweeping wind
that uproots trees and changes what has been,
but through the storms of life she keeps her friends
and throws her stress into a rubbish bin.
First born, her independence drove us wild
when hormones had her stretch her fledgling wings.
We wanted family, but in this shining child
we had a bird who wanted songs she made to sing.

And now she has a husband, two young sons,
A woman walking proudly in the sun.


Filed under Poetry, Thomas Davis

12 responses to “Sonnets 4, 8, and 24

  1. Thomas, you and your wife are quickly becoming my favorite poets working today. Your poems are so full of a parent’s love and fears… they speak to an experience that is the essence of living. Keep writing them, and I’ll keep reading them. Steven Federle

  2. belladonna23

    beautiful writing.. I wish I was a mother. Just recently, even at my young age, I almost was. But a miscarriage prevented me, and whether or not it was for the best, I guess we will never know.
    a few of the pieces I wrote for my baby, before and after the death

  3. Almost any comment I leave will feel inadequate, somehow. These are three wonderful, wonderful sonnets, full of heart-wrenching images and emotions any parent – indeed, any human being – can surely identify with. There’s such depth and fire and love in these poems; I stand in awe. I’m with Steven: this is writing I want to keep reading.

  4. ab ab cd cd ef ef gg all 3 rhyme time…

  5. Anna Mark

    I love this description: When those you love are threatened, all the towers
    of hope constructed when you’re free of fear are held suspended. And this one, too: Vesuvius fires locked deep inside her bones…these images are so captivating. It is wonderful to read such words about children, parenthood and life on life. I have yet to write about parenthood and children…you’re planting some good seeds.

  6. morningjoy

    Your sonnets have touched a deep and tender place where my parental heart strings still vibrate songs unsung. Even though our children now have children, memories of those dearest of days never fade. I love your imagery. Thank you for finding me through my blog. I’ll be back here for frequent visits.

  7. As a parent i relate. As a poet I admire your skill with rhythm & metre

  8. Beautiful and touching tributes to your children – those excruciatingly wonderful bonds of love… and sometimes worry. Thanks for sharing this, Thomas – well-crafted, as well as moving!

  9. Ina

    Such beautiful sonnets about your children, I love them!

  10. Your word are always so lovely that I get weepy–and come back for More!!

  11. extrasimile

    You know, Thomas, the great danger of working in a tight form like the sonnet is that the voice will sound unnatural. Da-dum da-dum da-dum da-dum da-sing/ da-dum da-dum da-dum da-dum da-bring. You avoid this wonderfully. In part, it’s a function of not ending the sentences at the end of the lines. A nice, natural tone results—I don’t quite want to say ‘syncopation’—but it’s close to that.
    …a son, each one/ so precious that they sang alive our days.
    This is nice music. And you avoid the arching obscurity that I manage to specialize in. You might be sitting on the back porch, thinking back—what was Wordsworth’s definition of poetry?—emotion recollected in tranquility.
    a kaleidoscope of moment histories
    defining love, our deepest human mystery.
    Yes, Wordsworth is rolling through these lines. But in part the tone is just the result of simple honesty, one man talking truthfully to another. I know it’s going to sound strange hearing me say this, but you don’t have to be obscure to plumb the human mysteries—or our histories. Very beautiful.

    • Jim, I love your poetry, as you know, partially because you force us to muck around in your obscurities and allusions to the whole Western canon until we can begin to see what the poem is saying. I have to admit that compared to the average college professor of literature I would be considered fairly well read, but you truly make me feel as humble as a small gray mouse. To be as learned in poetry, mythology, and literature as you are must truly be a blessing. I thank you for these words. This sonnet sequence was written during the most trying time of anyone’s life, and if you find simple honesty and beauty in them, then I am truly grateful.

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