by Alazanto, Kevin Davis, our beloved son
Alazanto was Kevin Davis, our son
a pastel and poem, in memoriam, by Ethel Mortenson Davis
The Poet’s Walk
The Mourning Cloaks 1
along our walk.
“He loved and
not to be afraid.” 2
“That was the sum
of your being,
“Do you remember
when you told us,
the Poet’s Walk along
the Hudson River.
It’s a place I like
So today we walk
The Poet’s Walk,
joined by the
to say our last goodbye.
Note: 1 Mourning Cloaks are butterflies.
2 This was Kevin’s last message, written after he could not speak. The full message was, “Kevin loves and not to be afraid.” Kevin passed away 2 years ago from today.
by Ethel Mortenson Davis
on the apricot tree in bloom
across my neighbors fence—
A tree of butterflies!
The cornflowers are gaining
and soon will be in bloom.
Where are the rain-showers
catch us off guard.
Will the iris
lose its life again?
is the budding branch,
the Painted Ladies
warming their wings
on my garden wall.
by Thomas Davis
Back in New Mexico the monsoon rains
had turned the desert green. Massed sunflowers blazed
with purple bee balm in the fields, the stain
of colors so intense there was a praise
of living in the vibrancy exploding
across a landscape barren, dry, the earth
so sterile that the thought of burgeoning
into a garden seemed a cause for mirth.
We walked in beauty like the Navajo
and thought about our son and how his eyes
would never look again into the glow
of fields of flowers, see the flight of butterflies.
The moment that that thought occurred to me,
I stopped. How can this be reality?
Note: This was written just days after our son’s death in Poughkeepsie, New York.
by Thomas Davis
We kissed his forehead, yellow, cold, inert,
sobbed our goodbyes, left his body, drove
to Poet’s Walk above the Hudson, hurt
beyond expression, where, on hills, small groves
of ancient trees are interspersed with fields,
a place where, Kevin said, he liked to go.
And as cremation’s fires consumed, annealed
his spirit to our spirits, as the glow
of July’s sun warmed flesh too numb to feel,
we walked where he had walked and tried to find
our balance in a world turned sad, unreal—
our son was gone, his smile, his wondrous mind.
And as we walked the wings of butterflies,
black mourning cloaks, danced through the summer skies.
At the University of New Mexico Cancer Center in Albuquerque, where I am now being treated once a week, a healing bear greets patients as they enter the building. Marked with ancient symbols, shining black in the sun, Ethel and I stand before it every time we come to the Center. The major question in my mind at the moment, one that I cannot shake, is, why am I surviving my bout with bladder cancer while Kevin, only 28 years old, did not survive? I would have given him my life without a thought if he could still be present, thinking about butterflies that were such a constant, powerful symbol to him from the time he was a child to the day of his death when, as Ethel has written in a powerful poem not yet posted, a butterfly visited his hospital room so many stories up in the middle of the city. I understand there is no answer to such a question, and I am deeply grateful to have more years with Ethel, my children, and grandchildren, but both Ethel and I miss our son. This sonnet was written after our visit to Poet’s Walk Park on the Hudson River in New York. Ethel has also written about our experience there. After this moment we flew back home to New Mexico. Just over a year later we discovered my cancer. One of Ethel’s many photographs of the healing bear is below as a symbol of survival and strength in the face of devastating tribulation.
photograph by Ethel Mortenson Davis