Category Archives: Ethel Mortenson Davis

The Gatherer

by Ethel Mortenson Davis

He is not just a gatherer
of ripened berries and roots,
plants of every kind,
but he is a gatherer of days
and lights and secret places
where treasures abound.

He’s not just a gatherer
of summer strawberries,
blueberries, and blackcaps,
the northern red cranberries,
but a gatherer of open spaces,
a quiet still hill,
and a meeting at last
of his wild woman.

She is there in the blanket
of golden chanterelles
among the deep pockets
of the forest
where he finally ravishes her
with kisses to her mouth
and blowing hair.

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Lightning Bugs

by Ethel Mortenson Davis

We, as children,
celebrated the arrival of fireflies,
calling them lightning bugs.

We danced with them
in the meadows,
collected them in glass jars.

Some of us
took their thoraces,
rubbing them on the backs
of our T-shirts,
letters glowing in the dark.

We didn’t know their light
was sacred–
that this gift brightened

our backwoods swamp,
lighthouses called to mind
in our walled-off childhood.

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Knotted Swing

by Ethel Mortenson Davis

I remember
when we went into
the high haymow,
way to the farthest corner
of the barn,
to swing out across
the drop-off edge,
holding the knotted rope
between our legs.
You would say,
“Jump off now.”
“Jump off.”

And when we climbed
the tallest maple tree
in our yard,
and we were at the top,
you would say,
“Jump down now.”
“Jump down.”

I knew somehow
that you were
not right in your mind,
but I did not care
because I loved you
anyway.

Now, when I think
about our rope swinging,
I have placed a large pool of water
underneath the knotted swing—
as big as Lake Michigan,
a cushion—
so when I swing out across the barn
I have something
just in case I fall.

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Doorway at Chaco Canyon, a poem about the photograph by Kevin Davis

by Ethel Mortenson Davis

Summer solstice
was the day you chose
to photograph the open doors.
Only then was the light
brightest at the last door.

Ancient doors aligned
to summer’s celestial calendar—
when the sun hangs
lowest on the longest day,
when the light is brightest
at the last door,

showing us the path
to enlightenment—
all we will ever want
in the world.

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Ethel Mortenson Davis Book Named Among Outstanding Poetry Collections for 2018

The Wisconsin Library Association (WLA) gives out yearly awards for outstanding books published each year. This year Ethel Mortenson Davis’s book, Under the Tail of the Milky Way Galaxy has just been recognized as one of seven outstanding books of poetry by Wisconsin poets.

The announcement by the WLA is below:

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What Kind of People are We?

By Ethel Mortenson Davis

Many people are hired
to view disturbing pictures
on Facebook in order
to take them off.

The video is so disturbing
that the people viewing these
cannot continue in their jobs
because they take home
these images in their heads,
and ghosts haunt them
throughout the night.

These are pictures
of rapes of men, women, and children,
and the killings and torture
of women and children and men
along with animals.

People viewing the images
have to leave their jobs with PTSD.

What kind of people are we?
What kind of people do we want to become?

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The Hope of Trees

by Ethel Mortenson Davis

Our president shakes
the hand of the Brazilian leader,
congratulating him on
destroying the Amazon Rain Forest —
faster now than we can imagine.

The Hope of Trees

In the heavy rain
this morning
I waited for you,
but you did not come.
No walkers came at all;

so the dog and I
headed into the deep forest
in pouring rain.

As we walked deeper
into the trees
the rain lessened
until it nearly stopped,
except for a few large drops
that pinged down
from the canopy above.

See, you should have come.

You missed an unforgettable silence
and a white mist
that rose from the bottom
of the forest floor.

It looked so eerie!

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