Tag Archives: imagistic poetry


Is the prayer
of the Snowy Egret

than the Monk’s supplication?

Ethel Mortenson Davis

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by Ethel Mortenson Davis

we went past
somebody’s place,
and there were things
sitting all over
and kids
and a woman looking
out a window
at a cat,
and the kids
were in puddles
with their eyes in oceans,
and they were waiting
for a storm or something,
and the place
looked twice as junky
as it did when the snow was,
but it didn’t matter
because it smelled warm,
and the sky was heavy,
and life stood in the mud, open-mouthed.

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Gray-White Geese

by Ethel Mortenson Davis

Put your arms around me
to keep the desert winds
from blowing through me.


As the snow clouds have gathered
like gray-white geese
gathering on water.

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The Bell

by Ethel Mortenson Davis

I heard
a temple bell
far away—
a deep rich
summoning voice.

a medicine man
came to my bed,
beating the air
around my feet
and head,
beating the cobwebs
of sadness stretched
over me.

A dream.
I know because
the dog did not stir.

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An Eve of Wind and Shakespeare

by Ethel Mortenson Davis

This wind of eve
has a tinge of Hamlet’s madness
that harbors
the fear of this world
and the next.

The howling witch
casts a fear of man
across my throat and chin.
Blackness seeps
into my brain.
We cannot live,
nor do we want to die.
It is the worst of life and death.

How can I say
or write this word
when she takes
my tongue and hands
and leaves in their place
twigs to scratch with.

I glimpse the view
of the moon backwards
in my mirror—a kinder,
gentler heart.

This windy eve has a tinge
of Hamlet’s madness.

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Celestial Bird: The Poem

by Ethel Mortenson Davis

became caught
last night
in my net.

This morning
I untangled him—
eyes true and bright,
magnificent iridescent feathers,
and a warm beating heart
that stayed in my hand
as I threw him up into the air
so he could
continue his flight
across the universe.


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Auschwitz E. Poland, January 27, 1945 , a poem by Ethel Mortenson Davis

Deep January
never felt so warm–
when the strong arms
of the Red Army
picked up
the skeleton-like people
and set them
on blankets in the snow.

The evil snake
had reached down
deep into their bodies
and tried to snatch
their very souls,

but the soldiers
gathered them
like sick dogs
in their arms
and set them
into the sunshine.

Libertacja was like
the swinging
of a thousand swings
up into the air–
a day when poetry
began to be written.

Originally published in Gallup Journey, January 5, 2011


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The Healer, from Ethel Mortenson Davis’s I Sleep Between the Moons of New Mexico, iuniverse press

“…you have been yourself at the edge of the Deep Canyon and have come back unharmed” An Elder of the San Juan Pueblo. 1959. V. Laski. Seeking Life.
“I was invisible” An Asiatic Eskimo. 1980. D. Cloutier. Spirit Spirit, Shaman Songs.

In the snowy canyons
you came to me
as an eagle
and whispered
(in almost audible sounds)
“the key to the secret
of healing. . .”

For my wounds
had gone beyond wounds
and had festered
into deep holes
in my sides,
and gangrene had set in,

but, in a whisper,
you came and said,
“you have the keys within you.
You are the stars
in the starry night.
You are the source
at the mouth of rivers.
You have the medicine
to heal
already in your bones.”

And my wounds became
as faint as the sound
of feathers,
as pale as the ringed moon.

And the healer
came to me
in the face of the wolf.
She came
and nodded to me
with her deep intelligence,
and her eyes told me,
“your spirit is strength.
Your force is as great
as volcanoes,
for your goodness prevails
over the dark;
your goodness
has brought you out
of the deep canyon.”

And again the healer
came to me.
This time as a bear,
a joyous white bear
with great white paws,
and she told me,
“you were invisible,
but now I see you.
You have gone
to the edge of the great canyon
but have come back

“And now your laughter
will become
as mountainous as thunder,
and your tears
will be the tears of glory!”

I tell you.
I have put my ear
to the great Earth
and have felt your presence.


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