The Engineer

by Ethel Mortenson Davis

In winter
a boy or girl could ice skate
up the branch
of Little Sandy Creek
as far as their strength could hold out
before the heavy snows of January
spoiled the ice.

It was here
they would dream
about who they would become,
about what they would do
with their lives
when they grew up—
before the willows
became too thick and
turned them back,

or when the shallow spots,
under the bridges,
with stones
would stop them.

Charlie could skate for miles
before he went home
to put steaming copper kettles
of water on his stove
to bend slats of wood
to make skis with curled ends

before the heavy snows of January and February
swept across us.


Filed under Ethel Mortenson Davis, Poetry

13 responses to “The Engineer

  1. . . . reminding me of the days of old.

  2. sonjabingen

    A childhood surrounded by such beauty. Happy Birthday Mom!

  3. dfb

    Tender, reflective, beautiful to read.

  4. I can see it all as though I was there with you all! Thank you.

  5. Caddo Veil

    How very lovely! You always set the scene so that even the smell of the air fills me. God bless you and yours today.

  6. Oh, the joys of those childhood winters, skating and dreaming and going home to make their own skis! Thickened willow patches and shallow ice with stones did not truly discourage in those childhoods days long ago. What a dream! I don’t want to wake up!

  7. I enjoyed that, Ethel! You have such a great way of bringing the reader into the poem, just by your vivid descriptions.

  8. In my childhood what we made were go-carts 🙂

    But the essence of the experience was just as you described in your poem


  9. vivid. thanks. quite different to my experieince, but lovely to imagine through your words.

  10. Julie Catherine

    Beautiful, Ethel – you swept me into your world to dream for a moment of what could have been, and it was a lovely interlude. Thank you. ~ Julie 🙂

  11. The dreams of childhood – so precious

  12. It’s the simplicity and economy in the language here which, I think, conveys the scene so clearly to us all. Then there’s an unexpected development with the introduction of Charlie … the Engineer … who we find is doing more than dreaming: he’s already doing stuff, making something, and I suppose making his future at the same time.

  13. Such a visually pleasant and emotionally poignant poem capturing youth’s dreams and unlimited possibilities.

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