Love Song

by Ethel Mortenson Davis

When scientists discovered
the wings of a cricket
preserved in stone
from the Jurassic period,

they played its wings
and heard
an ancient love song
never heard
in our world before,
a new song.

This morning,
while driving home:
A colt had been flung
to the side of the road,
killed in the night
by a passing car,

its little body
nearly missed
because it was
so small—

small enough
to still be brought
to its mother’s belly,

its mother gone,

a love song


Filed under Ethel Mortenson Davis, Poetry

7 responses to “Love Song

  1. eremophila

    My heart always responds to your words…..

  2. Caddo Veil

    Very sad.

  3. This poem has a sad ending with the colt killed on the highway with no mother in sight, but it is a much more complicated poem than that. Ever since I first read it in manuscript, the poem has fascinated me. It starts with miracle: The fossil of an ancient Jurassic cricket from 165,000,000 years ago, preserved through millennia. That is enough of a miracle, but then the scientists who discover the stones of the cricket manage to “play” wings which were apparently “alive enough” to replicate the cricket’s Jurassic love song in contemporary time. The past and an ancient love song brought alive by human action in the 21st century. This alone would make the poem about a miracle of preservation, life, love, and science.
    But the poem does not end here. It moves to another image, a more troubling one, of a young colt, at the beginning of life, that is killed by the mechanizing of human society, roads and cars. Sadly, the dead colt,
    small enough
    to still be brought
    to its mother’s belly,
    is alone in its death without its mother. The cricket is also dead, long dead, encased by stone, but still filled with its song, an echo of long, long ago life.
    So we have one image of a fossil still alive and a young colt without life. Death has inevitability ended the living of both creatures, but in the image of the absent, presumably alive mother, grieving the way horses grieve, there is a hint of both continuance and the possibility of fecundity, of continuation in the way of life, which, as I read the poem, links the colt, even the humans in the deadly car, and the cricket. Life, the poem sees to say, goes on and is remembered through the love song the scientists managed to play using the stone cricket’s wings.
    And the title, Love Song, is singular, not plural. The love of the mother for the colt and the cricket in its mating call is singular, life leading to life, populating the continuance of life on earth in spite of the sadness that is so powerful and tragic in individual lives.
    Therefore, the poem is not sad even in its sadness, but filled with celebration for the love that passes one generation from the next from the Jurassic Age millions of years ago to the moment that the mother’s colt was taken from her belly.

  4. very nice imagery! i agree with thomas not sad but hints at the transcendental message of love

  5. This is a fascinating poem, Ethel, and Tom’s commentary on it equally so. The two images, side by side, reverberate and leave the reader thinking and wondering. The title is interesting too; Tom is right about that; looked at in retrospect it is a wholly unexpected title which therefore causes us to consider the poem all over again.
    I like the immediacy of those short lines, too.
    Congratulations on another fine poem!

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