The Sickness

by Ethel Mortenson Davis

The people in the village
tied their sicknesses
onto the spotted jaguar.
Then men chased him
out of the village with sticks,

but the people
did not chase him far enough—
because in the night
he came back
and took my love.


Filed under Ethel Mortenson Davis, Poetry

20 responses to “The Sickness

  1. Caddo Veil

    Oh, no! I quickly got pulled into this one–great work.

  2. Shame on them, the not prepared! They should of kept watch then to return he would not of dared. Shame for if they had your love love would still be there.There would be no need to shed a tear. xx

  3. Powerful, those last three lines! This poem is so succinct – with just a few lines you’ve told the story of the villagers’ beliefs, and made it very personal.

  4. fivereflections

    thoughts of the scapegoat and how individuals should deal with reality fill my thoughts, inspired by your poem

  5. Scriptor Obscura

    I love this poem. Simple and powerful in its imagery and emotions. It evokes so much. Excellent work, as always. You weave an entire story into a few poetic lines. I love the way that you write.

  6. Dear Ethel, this poem shines a light on the absence of fading where paintings once hung in the gallery of my life.
    So beautifully written.

  7. In the simplicity of this brief tale I hear worlds of grief. Beautiful poem.

  8. Such a powerful poem told in very few words.

    I have been back to read it a number of times


  9. Julie Catherine

    I hear your grief in this very powerful poem, Ethel; and I am so sorry … (((Hugs))) ~ Julie

  10. I am always amazed how some people are able to capture such deep imagery and emotion in so few words. This was great. Thanks for sharing.

    Grace and peace to you,

  11. Packs a punch in a very compact tale!

  12. Glue doesn’t always stick…

  13. But it might work better than the twine they used…

  14. Wonderful depiction of how when we chase our fears we actually leave ourselves unprotected.

  15. These ancient rituals and superstitions have resonance – we are always trying to find order, reason, meaning for what befalls us – powerful poem

  16. Anna Mark

    My God, this one took my breath away. The swiftness off the loss. The blackness of the sickness and how we beat it, to no avail. It is fierce and relentless and cruel. A thief in the night. Wow. I am so moved by this piece.

  17. The skill with which you relate this story puts me in mind of Chuang Tzu’s
    dexterous butcher.

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