Shining Waters and Sonnet 44

photograph by Sonja Bingen

This photograph was taken after the memorial for Kevin Michael Davis, organized by Sonja and Mary Wood, our daughters, was held at Newport Beach on the tip of Door County in Wisconsin, one of Kevin’s favorite places when he was a child and young adult. This beautiful place looks out on Lake Michigan and is filled with the sounds of birds and lapping of waves on sand and wet, black stones. Passing ships are often small dots on the distant horizon.

Sonnet 44

by Thomas Davis

To sum an individual life with words
is like endeavoring to touch a hand
through shadows on a wall. Like falling sand
words flow around our substance; sounds unheard
dance symphonies of brilliant mockingbirds
into an absence; moments fade into a fairyland.

Our son was loved; he loved; he made a mark
in web design, fought deep depression, wrote
some poems and essays, loved to walk the dark,
taught everyone around him, wore a coat
of many-colors from the spirit of his heart,
and blessed his father, mother as he taught

us courage as he faced life torn apart.
His death left us bereft, alone, distraught.


Filed under Art, Photography, Poetry, Thomas Davis

20 responses to “Shining Waters and Sonnet 44

  1. I just wanted to stop in to say that I love the well-crafted and heartfelt poetry, images, and collaboration here on this blog. Thank you.

  2. I am grateful you share your pain so beautifully, I am greatly sorry for your loss.

  3. Thomas,I cry when I read these tributes to your son for no parent should ever know the pain of losing a child. His beautiful spirit lives on through your words .I’ve barely written anything for my daughter not because I don’t want to but because I fail to find the words that convey the essence that was her. It’s my fervent desire to pen for her the way that you have for your son.Thank you for sharing your son with us

    • Lena, these were written during the events they describe. They helped me keep balance at the time in a world that had turned unreal to both Ethel and I. The words are in you, though, truth to be said, if I tried to write about Kevin dying now I am not sure I would be able to in the way I was able to at this time. You are a good, strong person that has a good, strong voice and the discipline to write good poetry. When the right time comes, the words will come.

  4. Caddo Veil

    Thomas, this is my favorite–the most beautiful of the sonnets for Kevin, in my opinion. I should like to keep a printed copy, if you wouldn’t mind (with proper copyright notation)? “Moments fade into fairyland”, and “wore a coat of many colors from the spirit of his heart”–exquisitely beautiful, the language speaks personally to me. And the photo is gloriously beautiful, a perfect complement to your gleaming words. Much love to you and Ethel today~~Caddo

    • Caddo, you should always feel free to keep printed copies of anything I, or Ethel for that matter, do. We would fully trust you always. How are you and Betty doing out in the great Pacific Northwest?


      • Caddo Veil

        Thank you for your great generosity, Thomas! Haven’t heard from Betty today, but there was a death this past week, so I’m guessing she’s busy and stressed. As for me, today is much improved over the past few days–God is faithful!! thank you again–love, Caddo

  5. I’m not sure whether I can write a comment that does justice to the feeling and love you’ve written into this sonnet… but I really think it’s beautiful. Thank you for sharing it with us. x

  6. I would echo that comment from Eve Redwater: I couldn’t do justice … However, as Caddo Veil has done, I’ll pick out a few of the words that I especially appreciate. For me the choice falls on :
    “To sum an individual life with words
    is like endeavoring to touch a hand
    through shadows on a wall.”
    I felt that myself when my own father died, but had not captured the difficulty with this economy of words or power of imagery.

  7. So very tender and moving, Thomas, and the photograph is just stunning. Thank you.

  8. This is extremely moving and the photograph is too.

    Your tributes to your son are inspiring Thomas and Ethel


  9. So beautiful, sad, and wonderfully written all in one breath.. and at the same time took my breath away. xx

  10. Thomas, again so poignant – it almost leaves me speechless, experiencing the depth of your feelings. Through all your sonnets, and this one especially, I feel that we (the reader) have come to know him just a little – and to love him too.

  11. Ina

    Hi Thomas,

    this beautiful sonnet is such a moving tribute to the love for your son. The similes in the first part, the personal words in the second part and the heartbreaking end touched me deep.

    Like falling sand
    words flow around our substance.

  12. Julie Catherine

    Thomas, your words touch my heart to the very core, and bring tears to my eyes. This is a beautiful tribute to your son, and the photograph exquisite. Sending you and Ethel healing thoughts and prayers. ~ Julie xox

  13. Anna Mark

    I felt this way when I was asked to read a poem in honour of my Oma who died just recently. It was impossible to find the words, really, to sum up her life and what she meant to me over the years. I find this phrase difficult to read, and I’m not sure why, perhaps because I have so many questions about the shadows on the wall. It is an image which “hits” a wall for me, a hard reality, reaching for someone through your memories of them…beautiful poem.

  14. Thomas, you never cease to amaze me at how bravely your write in memory of your wonderful son, Kevin. You intertwine your sorrow, his suffering, your pride in him, his accomplishments and gifts so seamlessly in these poem. Love the photograph of sparkling Lake Michigan!

  15. The photo offers such a sense of eternity, serenity, the shine on the water like a thousand transitioning souls, brighter and brighter as they get farther from shore, the dot in the distance a ship that is there without a physical presence.

    Then your words in such immediate reflection of your painful loss, reaching out to all who read them and with each line, each poem, are gathered in the memory of Kevin, all he was and all he might’ve been.

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