Tag Archives: children


by Ethel Mortenson Davis

As children
we don’t forgive
our parents.

As parents
we forgive
our children,

opening up
one of the back rooms,
sweeping up
the dust,

making room
again for you.


Filed under Ethel Mortenson Davis, poems, Poetry, Uncategorized

How Hard

by Ethel Mortenson Davis

We talked about children,
their schooling,
their boyfriends.
How they are becoming
serious about their relationships.

We talked about children
becoming people.
How hard it is.

We talked about
how hard creating
a new piece of art is.

How much energy
the making of art takes —
an extraordinary piece of art.

How hard that is:
Like the yellow orchid
in the forest this morning
among the blue waters.
How hard the earth struggled
to bring about that flower:

Like my ancestors
that were sailors,
sailing to other lands —
among the blue waters —

how hard.


Filed under Ethel Mortenson Davis, poems, Poetry


by Ethel Mortenson Davis

They were both
hanging by threads,
trying to hold together,
talking to people:
Lost yet another child–

But those threads
will widen,
grow strong
when they decide to live
for the living–

like the herd of deer at dusk
we saw
when we drove
back across the white frozen fields

in a clearing,
on the side of a steep hill,
clinging to threads
in a trampled field
surrounded by deep winter snows.


Filed under Ethel Mortenson Davis, Poetry


I wonder what our families
would have been
had the older brother
taken the younger
into his heart,
protecting him,
helping him?

Had the older sister
loved the younger.
taking the difficult choices
with her?

What would the products
of these families,
the children—us—
have been to each other?

Would we have wanted
To destroy each other?


Filed under Ethel Mortenson Davis, Poetry

Daughters and Sons

by Ethel Mortenson Davis

I remember
when our daughters
became “a certain age”
and left us—
not just in a physical way,
but from our hearts as well.

I was sure this was what
raising children was about—
children leave you at a certain age,
never to return.

But they did return and
made that full circle
back to us, but
with “certain stipulations.”

Our son left,
came back,
then left again,

We thought he would
never return,
but he did again
at his death:

Came back full circle
to say, I need you both.


Filed under Ethel Mortenson Davis, Poetry

Star Songs

a children’s poem by Thomas Davis written for Sonja and Mary when they were young

There was a song that I once heard
When I was very, very young.
I heard the songs of bright night stars
Cold singing in a silent tongue.

There’s no one else within the world
Who heard their silver lullabye,
But now I’m telling you, my loves:
Go out and listen to the sky!


Filed under Poetry, Thomas Davis

Love Story

by Thomas Davis

For Ethel

The golden eagle, dark brown against deep blue of late spring sky,
Hovered, wings adjusting to wind currents.
In the cool canyon, beneath the ancient cottonwood tree
With its streaked white trunk,
Beside the stream shrinking from spring’s fullness,
We sat next to our picnic blanket.
The eagle dipped, then soared into a great arc
Toward, then over, sandstone canyon walls
Where years of rain had flowed over the canyon rim
And stained rock as it fell to where it fed the stream below.
That day was not our beginning.
Our beginning was in letters chained from Wisconsin to Colorado
As never-met poets began to explore what might come to be.

Where my poetry raged with fumbling working toward form,
Your poetry burned on the page,
Words boiled into images.
But in Unaweep Canyon on a day that seemed like it should last forever
We talked and began weaving invisible bonds
That show no signs of weakening
As we leave middle age and become elders
Visited by the pains of age and wear of time.
The moments of our lives together tremble,
Like the golden eagle’s wings:

Days spent learning the intensity of each other
As we walked Orchard Mesa’s huddled foothills,
The moon rising so deep an orange it was almost red,
Growing larger and larger
As it labored over the Prussian blue rim of Grand Mesa;
Tears coming to your eyes when you singed
The wedding dress you worked weeks to make
On the night before our wedding;
The long drive to Washington State’s Anacortes Island,
Possessions piled on top of an old car,
As we searched for life–
And then the even longer drive to Wisconsin
As we traveled over mountains,
Through orchards and fields of crops, deep into forests, across plains
Until we came, at last, to Lake Superior shining sunlight.

Then the birth of Sonja, Mary, and Kevin.
Tense waiting at hospitals
Until finally the joy of new life explodes;
The loneliness of a hospital room at night
While Mary struggles for breath inside a clear plastic bubble
As doctors fight an illness that seems to last forever;
The day when Kevin convulses
As doctors and nurses rush into his room
And force us into the hallway scared at not understanding.
Days spent walking to Lake Winnebago
Dragging a red wagon behind us
With Sonja talking ceaselessly while one,
Then the other, carries Mary in our arms.
The years of school and the search for a teaching job
Until, at last, we end up in a small Midwestern town
Working in an alternative school on the Menominee Reservation.

Life fills up with the details of living,
Moments of emotion:
Joy, anger, frustration, desperation, hope, sadness, grief, laughter,
A flowing that stretches into a landscape of bends and rocks and hills.

When we moved to Wisconsin Dells into the Gold Mine House
With its basement field stone floor and huge fireplaces,
Bald eagles sat with white heads and brown backs and breasts
Nearly every morning during winter and spring
In trees along the Wisconsin River,
Snow falling as one or another took wing off its pine perch
And soared into cold to look for open water.

A poem, or a hundred poems, cannot give life to either life or love.
Marriage begins, and time passes;
Children are born, and time passes;
Jobs are won or lost, and time passes;
Daughters and a son run through a million minutes
Of motion and meaning, and time passes;
Grandchildren are born and become blessings, and time passes…

Our lives spark against each other,
Spiraling out like skiers I remember one night in Aspen, Colorado
Who came down black mountains slopes
Carrying torches that glided and wove,
Suspended high above where I was standing, in the night sky.

And inside the passing of time a golden eagle still hovers above us
Beside a small stream
That sings as it flows over small shelves of sandstone
Until one morning we wake, and you grind fair trade coffee beans,
And we sit before a fire in the fireplace in New Mexico
That you say is good for our souls,
And we deal with the pains in your knee and my back,

And we try to understand each other
In the way we have always tried to understand each other,
Braiding our lives through moments when we are together.


Filed under Poetry, Thomas Davis