The Dance

a photograph and poem by Ethel Mortenson Davis

There is a dance
the bee makes
when it has found food.
It dances in the hive
with all the other bees
looking on
until each one
understands the dance
and knows where to fly–

unlike the astronauts
who came around
from the dark side
of the moon
and saw (for the first time)
what the earth looked like,
new and bright
and more beautiful
than we could have imagined–
a blue-green jewel
shrouded in white clouds.

They wanted to tell us
the best thing
about going into space
was the earth itself.

They wanted to do
the dance for us,
but we could not
get the sense of it.
We could not imitate
the dance.

The Dance copyright © I Sleep Between the Moons of New Mexico, 2010.


Filed under Art, Ethel Mortenson Davis, Photography, Poetry

17 responses to “The Dance

  1. Ethel

    This is a fabulous poem!

    One of the first poets I was introduced to (in reading, that is), was Billy Collins. And for me this emulates him to some degree in the ability to travel from one theme to another quite seamlessly and at the same time keeping those themes connected. This is wonderful


  2. . . . spring is all about the dance.

  3. Ina

    hi Ethel,
    the dance of the bees, there is nothing like it! Lovely! 🙂

  4. Excellent! This represents a great Indian perspective without falling into the trap of stereotypical speech. I like it because it incorporates the bee dance in nature with the modern astronaut dance coming around the moon, and people not getting it because they could not physically share the actual perspective. Way cool.

  5. Great poem and photo too! Spring is here, cheers all around 🙂

  6. Oh, the bees knew The Dance so perfectly–the astronauts only imperfectly!

  7. Great poem, Ethel – I think this will be one of my favorites of yours! Will mankind ever learn to do “the dance”….?

  8. A poem as poised and graceful as the dance itself. Beautiful. N.

  9. Bees are very advanced. I’m betting they’re far more intelligent than we suspect.

    Beautiful photo, lovely words!

  10. This is wonderful. And the photo too. Those astronauts must know how lucky they are.

  11. A wonderful comparison to bees and astronauts, I love it! I think they really are similar in the way that they are both searching for something. 🙂

  12. Thanks for these very interesting remarks .Love Ethel

  13. Anna Mark

    This poem questions the “dances” of humanity. What is worthy of imitation?
    How simply and easily and beautifully and naturally a bee does what it does for all bees to imitate. They make us look so silly — flying to the moon.

  14. This is an enchanting poem, and I love the surprising conjunction of ideas in it!

  15. I love where you took the dance of the bee…how its fellow bees innately know how to learn from its experience…and yet man sometimes seems so determined not to learn what he needs to know most…your last stanzas made me think of the Don McLean song ‘VIncent’:

    ‘…How you tried to set them free.
    They would not listen, they’re not listening still.
    Perhaps they never will… ‘

    I am so taken with your poetry, Ethel…how you use careful observation and delicate language to inform and inspire and very often leave one a little breathless.

  16. eremophila

    Reblogged this on Eremophila’s Musings and commented:
    Writing superb.

  17. A very successful poem, Ethel. A beautiful dance.

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