Tag Archives: forest


by Ethel Mortenson Davis

The hem of her dress
brushes against the trees
and the open meadows,
open spaces that bank
against the forest,
appearing familiar,
as if they were
from some other lifetime:

Brushing that brings
into focus
the sharpness
of the fox’s eyes
and the grass snake
that climbed
up into the cedar tree
to escape the flooded ground.

She is eye-level to us,
holding her head high,
looking into us
and we into her.


Filed under Ethel Mortenson Davis, poems, Poetry

Sustaining the Forest, the People, and the Spirit, the story of the Menominee Tribe’s Sustainable Forest, is Back in Paperback


My book, Sustaining the Forest, the People, and the Spirit, published by State University of New York (SUNY) Press, is still in print. I was afraid SUNY was going to let it go out of print, but they have printed new paperbacks, which they had sold out of a long time ago. The price is pretty high, but I’m excited by this development. It’s always good to not go out of print.

Sustaining the Forest, the People, and the Spirit tells the wonderful story of the Menominee Indian Tribe and how they have sustained their 230,000 acre forest in ways that have enhanced, rather than degraded, the environment in the face of development pressures. Through a careful look at Menominee history, politics, institutions, economy, culture, spirituality, science, and technology, I tried to provide insight into how this case study of sustainable environmental development can offer a rough road map for other communities to follow.

1 Comment

Filed under Essays, Thomas Davis

The Place Where I Walk

photographs by Ethel Mortenson Davis



Leave a comment

Filed under Ethel Mortenson Davis, Photography

Newport Beach

by Ethel Mortenson Davis

It is the end
of Door Peninsula,
the Newport  Beach  forest,
less dense now
from the gale winds
of last September
that toppled dead trees,
crisscrossing their trunks
ahead on our path
amidst living, smaller trees.
There are no words
to describe the large
old pines and cedars,
the largest trees
I have ever seen in Wisconsin —
not the picked over
forest trees
of two and three cuttings
that mostly remain here.
So tall these trees
along Lake Michigan,
dripping morning fog
on top of our heads and faces
from their skyscraper canopy.


Filed under Ethel Mortenson Davis, Poetry


by Ethel Mortenson Davis

It’s where the snow lies
inside the beating heart;
the forest,
who speaks in voices
across the wind,
waiting for the conductor
to begin
its movement springward:

Where teeth tear open
the flesh of a kill,
wolfing it down in mouthfuls
before another comes
to claim it as its own—

Where mankind
has nailed her hindquarters
to a board.

In her anguish
and suffering
the forest
still presents us
with gifts


Filed under Ethel Mortenson Davis, Poetry

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


by Ethel Mortenson Davis

There is a part
of me
that walks and talks and sees,
but then there is
another one
that has parts of wings:

Wings that take me
to the highest green cliff,
then drops me to the sea
to catch a ride on the back
of the dragonfly
as he crosses the land—

that take me
to the farthest planet,
the red one,

then pulls me
back to the forest
where green moss
clings to the north side
of trees
in winter’s cascade
of blue shadows on snow and sparkling sun.


Filed under Ethel Mortenson Davis, Poetry

Carver of Birds

He sank into the raven’s eyes.
Their surface sheen reflected snow
Back at the whiteness of the skies.
A concave warp of vertigo

Unshrouded mice in tunnels cached
From clawing eyes that beaked black wings
Above the scurrying that snatched
Blood past the raven’s ravenings.

Inside his heart black feathers stirred
Into his hands, his human life.
A crucible croaked from the bird,
Its blood inside his blood a knife

That tunneled black rimmed raven eyes
Into a cedar block that pulsed with wings
And raucous swells of clawing cries
That made the forest’s stillness sing.

He shrugged his spirit from the bird
And left it listening to snow.
He walked through darkness, undeterred
By failing light, the silver glow

Of moonlight through the limbs of trees.
Outside the house he stopped and stared
At birds he’d carved into the eaves.
In rooms, on fence posts wings were flared

As birdsong choired cacophony
Into the silence of the night.
The house moved, spirit-fantasy
Of birds eternally in flight.

Note: This poet is a companion to “Encounter with a Gray Morph Owl.” The idea came from an essay by Norbert Blei in “Door Way, the People in the Landscape.”


Filed under Poetry, Thomas Davis

Florida Forest

Sonja Bingen and family on vacation

Florida Forest

Leave a comment

Filed under Art, Photography

The Dream

by Ethel Mortenson Davis

In my dream
I was in a forest, just born.
(I was given a second chance.)

My old beginning
was an old skin,
discarded and left behind,
one covered with pain
and suffering,
one I had separated from
and left on the forest floor
behind me.

Here, I was born
into a loving family,
one who welcomed me
and esteemed me.

The she-wolf nurtured me
(animals take care of their young)
as I clung tight to her soft hair.
She spoke to me.
Her close-set eyes cautioned me.

“When you feel danger
leave that place.
You will always have danger
and enemies.

“If you are wounded
go back to your beginning.
And there in the quiet
and coolness you will heal.”

She taught me how to live.

“Take care of your reality
at hand. Take care
of your young first.”

She taught me how to die.

“Death is a passage
to another beginning.
Remember, there is always

The soft winds of the forest
rocked me to sleep.
The evening primroses
caressed me with their sweet water.

My life was full,
And I was happy.

When I awoke
I knew I had begun again.


Filed under Ethel Mortenson Davis, Poetry