In the Aftermath

by Thomas Davis

The woman wrapped the child against the cold
And walked into the forest where the glow
Of moonlight pooled a deeply shadowed gold
Beneath the trees on softly shining snow.

She gathered wood, the baby on her back,
And built a fire, its warmth a dancing light
Upon a great flat rock protruding black
Into the lake’s infinity of white.

Then, in the dark, sat, death-still, beside
The flames, the baby in her arms, the smear
Of stars above their heads a radiant tide
Of silence singing to the ebbing year.

At last, her voice a permutation slipped
Into the night, she started chanting words
Born deep in spirit as the blackened crypt
Of waters stirred beneath lake ice, and birds,

As black as mourning shrouds, began to fly,
The forest stirring like the waters, wind
A whisper as the baby voiced a tiny cry
And shadowy trees began to sway and bend.

The woman got up on her feet, her voice
As silver as the moon, and sang as deer
Began to bound onto the ice: “Rejoice,”
The woman sang, and as she sang the fear

Felt during hours of pain-filled, labored birth
Dissolved into the biting wind and light
That danced with deer upon the lake, the earth
And living integrated with the night.


Filed under Poetry, Thomas Davis

8 responses to “In the Aftermath

  1. Haunting poetry, Thomas. I felt the poem pivoted on two stanzas:

    “Then, in the dark, sat, death-still, beside
    The flames, the baby in her arms, the smear
    Of stars above their heads a radiant tide
    Of silence singing to the ebbing year.”
    (- it is so very beautiful, it called me to read it over again. You paint such a wonderful picture)

    …and then the last stanza closes it in such a way that, as a reader, you feel a part of the poem – and of the them – because you share a little understanding.
    (these are my personal thoughts anyway :-))
    Beautifully crafted writing.

  2. Nothing missing, nothing excessive. Two perfect pictures: one in the outer world; the other so personal yet social, human. So much we are in danger of losing, or else have lost already. Your poem carries the torch still and helps keep the dark at bay. Thank you.

  3. Thomas, I’ve printed these last two poems of yours to read offline – will be back soon to comment, soon as I’m able. No doubt they’re both wonderful, so I’m liking them in advance of reading.

  4. Anna Mark

    There are many very intense images in this poem for me. There is such a mixture of death and life, dark and light, a precariousness and then also joy, triumph. The baby in such harsh surroundings…the warmth of a small fire, the little cry, the forest stirring like the waters under the ice…and the last lines: And living integrated with the night. A deep sigh of relief, but the struggle continues on…

  5. Beautiful, Thomas! I love the visualization of this and the quiet yet intense emotion. And the deer dancing, of course! The form is subtle, as is the rhyming. This poem has an ancient feel, ballad-like. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Thomas, another wonderful poem! I think the emotions a woman feels during labor and giving birth are ancient and universal. Your poem is in a wild and primordial setting, and yet I resonated with it. After the birth there is the joy and hope – and the forgetting of the pain. But, as in the setting of your poem, I think there is always a little fear (conscious or unconscious) which stays with us today, as instinct and all the other mixed emotions of birthing. And in your poetry, I always see the metaphor too. Thanks for the experience of this one, Thomas.

  7. Into mothers’ psyche, their experience with the contradicting pain & joy of birth. Thank you, Thomas Davis, for this masterful, splendid iambic pentameter, alternating rhyme poetry, “In the Aftermath”…

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