Sonnet 36

by Thomas Davis

What does it mean deep down, beneath all feelings,
all thought, the regularity of breath,
to have a son? Blood from your blood, the singing
as steady as your heartbeat, the length and breadth
of who you are as father, husband, man,
the meaning borne from father, mother, son
passed through to son and daughters, all the hands
humanity has known on days with blazing suns.
We ought to celebrate and really know
each moment when our voices weave a song
as powerful as any oratorio
that makes the love we feel forever strong.

I think about my son, his spirit’s gentleness,
his signature of passionate intelligence.


Filed under Poetry, Thomas Davis

20 responses to “Sonnet 36

  1. Song of tribute– celebrate a loved one in the here & now, as well as in the after & forever…

  2. Julie Catherine

    Thomas, your sonnet is a beautiful celebration of your son, and it moved me to tears. Bless you. ~ Julie

  3. That is so, so beautiful, I cannot imagine your grief. joy and pride. I wrote this last year for my eldest son, who was going abroad for a short term of work., It is not as powerful as yours but it is every piece as heartfelt. Your son will live on forever in every word you write, every photo you take in fact in every thing you do. God bless you and bring you joy in the other members of your talented family. You have a wonderful poem written with love

  4. Dear Thomas, What a work of art and love. My cousin, Paul, died suddenly when he was 60. His mother is 95 now. “the love we feel forever strong”
    Blessings, Ellen

  5. Caddo Veil

    Thomas, these sonnets are always my favorites, and the ones about Kevin are my most favorite. Although they are written about your son, they feel/read the same way I do when I write my haunted/lost love poems. Thank you for sharing them with us–it means a great deal to me. Praying that God blesses you and Ethel and the family abundantly this day, and always.

  6. This is deeply moving, Tom, and loving. Also, given your son’s wonderful talent as a photographer, it seems most fitting that you should be able to pay tribute to him in your fine poems.

  7. Elizabeth Herron

    This is so beautiful, makes me think about how I feel about my daughters and granddaughter. Thanks Tom.

  8. extrasimile

    You know, Thomas, John reminds me of something I’ve been meaning to say. Your son was one fine photographer. The pictures you’ve been posting have a beguiling simplicity—very direct and honest—but they grow on you. Much like this sonnet. I’ll have to try something like it someday. The pairing of ‘feelings’ and ‘singing’, ‘man’ and ‘hands’, and ‘son’ and ‘suns’ in the first two quatrains is very nice, by the way. It brings the conclusion in to a rather sharp focus. A strong song indeed.
    Here’s something from Thomas Merton that seems to go with your poem.:
    ‘Let us recognize ourselves for who we are: dervishes mad with secret therapeutic love, which cannot be bought or sold, and which politicians fear more than violent revolution, for violence changes nothing. But love changes everything.’
    ‘No one can enter the river wearing the garments of public and collective ideas. He must feel the water on his skin. He must know that immediacy is for naked minds only, and for the innocent.’
    (The baby wins.)

    • Thanks Jim. I’m afraid this one does call for a lot of searching after pearls of meaning, but almost all of this sonnet sequence were written while Kevin was dying of cancer in Poughkeesie, NY. There were a few written after we came back to New Mexico after six weeks away, but that was after the ordeal of sitting in a hospital room for so long, the sadness so powerful and the dread and the thankfulness for his short life and all the rest of it, was finished. I love the Merton quote. You are a great poet, of course, so you coming here means a lot. Thank you.

  9. So very, very moving, Thomas!! Again, such a beautiful tribute to your son and your loving relationship. Thank you for sharing these with us – it’s always an honor to read your sonnets to Kevin, and it feels like you’re allowing us to walk on sacred ground.

  10. A beautiful, moving tribute to your son and to Love.

    The sonnet form enhances the sentiment I think


  11. dfb

    Like so many have said, this is wonderfully moving, Thomas, of course spoken from a heart that is riven with pain and a gamut of emotions. It is that sense of intelligence, its absence, which for me is hardest to take. Where does it go? We never get over a loss, only learn to live with it. I can’t imagine what you’ve been through, I only know when my own son goes back to university, for a few days I feel there is a hole inside, like a bit of me has been ripped out. So I’m not qualified to even guess how you have been feeling. I just hope that this life, for all its vicissitudes, is not as cold and cruel as it sometimes seems and that, in the end, there is a resolution which brings all loss, all separation, together as one. Wonderful stuff Thomas.

  12. Thomas,

    This is beautiful in itself, as a sonnet ( a poetry form I truly admire, and one at which I think you excel), but is is loving in its closeness to yourself and that makes it so very special.


  13. Anna Mark

    I will try to answer this question, too: What does it mean deep down, beneath all feelings, all thought, the regularity of breath, to have a son (daughter)? I can sense your “blood” running through these words and the strength of “meaning” therein, the song and music of your love.

  14. Oona Hays

    This poem touches me deeply. The transfer of love meaning, understanding, the work of many hands under the blazing sun, and then the gentleness of his spirit. There is a perennial flame burning in these words and shows infinite love.

  15. Our voices weaving a song of love, father to son–extremely uplifting and hopeful, I find. Thank you for this blessing today,.

  16. Thomas, your tribute to your son is wonderful. You make him proud each day with your writing. I wish you only the best my friend.

  17. A beautiful and moving tribute. We ought to celebrate and really know each moment… I couldn’t agree more!

  18. Such raw lyrical expression straight from the heart and such a hard experience, but resulting in the softness in this sonnet and all you and Ethel share of your son’s life.

    ‘I think about my son, his spirit’s gentleness,
    his signature of passionate intelligence.’

    That is so beautiful and had me trembling. I don’t have children, but can’t imagine anything more difficult than losing one. You words are so moving that they had me feeling that I had lost and found something extraordinary too.

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