Patagonian Glacier

by Ethel Mortenson Davis

The snowflakes that hit
the Patagonian glacier
take three-hundred years
before they are released–

released into fluid streams
that etch their way
to the bottom of the
great glacier,
breaking it’s back
before moving it out
Into the ocean.

There should be places
where no man
sets his foot.
The earth doesn’t seem
to be the right place
for man….
mankind does not seem
to fit the earth,

but other species know
how to live
with boundaries.
When there is scarcity,
other animals know never to reach
a population
greater than the resources.

Man is looking
to be released
from his own doing,
released from
his own glacier.

© I Sleep Between the Moons of New Mexico, 2010


Filed under Ethel Mortenson Davis, Poetry

14 responses to “Patagonian Glacier

  1. Profound Ethel and so true. Love David

  2. “but other species know
    how to live
    with boundaries.” This really is great Ethel, nature knows how to fit in around the earth… us, maybe not so much!

  3. this is beautiful and thought provoking. “released into fluid streams that etched their way” my favorite line. all in motion. even the steadfast glacier.~jane

  4. Reads beautifully, Ethel. I’m not totally certain, mind, that other species ‘know’ their limits … we’d have to run that by a biologist! But that isn’t the point of course – you are telling us that the human species needs to wake up to its responsibilities, and your image of the glacier (with which you start and finish, completing the circle) is a strong and fresh one for your purpose. Congratulations!

  5. Caddo Veil

    This is powerful, Ethel–“looking to be released…from his own glacier”. I wish I’d written that. Wonderful.

  6. Ethel,
    This is good. I enjoyed it!

  7. … Like a gambler who always thinks he (it’s generally a man) can beat the odds.

    A nice poem, but chilling. (I’ll avoid the obvious. 🙂 )

  8. This is beautiful, Ethel, as always you express your poetry in a style that is unique, personal and resonant…

  9. Ethel, this is a most powerful poem – and I so agree with its message. Your writing is always exquisite, and this is my new favorite of yours.

  10. A powerful message Ethel.

    Although I fear we have gone long past the point where ‘man’ is prepared to listen to your words.


  11. Anna Mark

    …and I’m afraid that when our time comes to be released there will be no streams or oceans.

  12. Yes, Ethel, we humans have done a very fine job of creating our very own near-wasteland in many cases, have we not? We are indeed “frozen” in our assumptions about what makes an “advanced society” and a “developed country.” We need to melt and give in and learn from the earth!

  13. The imagery of the glacier is so apt, Ethel. I can’t agree more–‘There should be places where no man sets his foot.’ From first word to last this poem speaks the truth–‘ other species know how to live with boundaries.’ Certainly consequences come swiftly if they do not. Man often assumes a power to go further than is natural, and he seems to get away with it. In the longer term, not so. Unfortunately all the species in this world are endangered as a result. An excellent poem, Ethel, one that will stay with me!

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