Tag Archives: mother

Sound of Breathing

by Ethel Mortenson Davis

This morning
the wind through the trees
sounded like air
through giant bellows,

like large lungs
breathing in air
and out air,

Like we felt,
next to our mother
as infants,
a great pair of lungs
that we knew somehow was

the source of life.


Filed under Ethel Mortenson Davis, poems, Poetry


by Ethel Mortenson Davis

All my ancestors
live inside of me.

One Grandfather cut down
the biggest tree in the county.

My Mother said,
“Why didn’t he leave
the biggest tree
to grow even bigger?”

Another Grandfather
referred to his trees
as “He and She.”

“Save those orange seeds;
they will grow into trees.”

One Grandmother said,
“What will they serve
for the wedding feast?

My room is filled
to the rafters
with their voices.

Every once in awhile
some ancestor
will sneak up behind me
and rudely nudge me
in the back

when I’m least
expecting it.


Filed under Ethel Mortenson Davis, Poetry

The Rhyming of Love

a love poem to Ethel by Thomas Davis

Our fathers died, and then your mother left
And took a train ride to her resting place.
There are no words for senses left bereft
The moment living left our son’s kind face.

Our love was glory when it first began to bloom.
We walked brown hills and felt the sky breathe light—
You took your hesitant, unlikely groom
And gave him more of life than was his right.

The days of work and turmoil, gladness, stress,
Have slowed us down and made us feel our years
As separateness has ground against the press
Of love through joyous days and bitter tears.

From gnarling roots of memories and time,
Love forges symphonies of changing rhyme.


Filed under Poetry, Thomas Davis

Love Song

by Ethel Mortenson Davis

When scientists discovered
the wings of a cricket
preserved in stone
from the Jurassic period,

they played its wings
and heard
an ancient love song
never heard
in our world before,
a new song.

This morning,
while driving home:
A colt had been flung
to the side of the road,
killed in the night
by a passing car,

its little body
nearly missed
because it was
so small—

small enough
to still be brought
to its mother’s belly,

its mother gone,

a love song


Filed under Ethel Mortenson Davis, Poetry


by Ethel Mortenson Davis

When will we take
half the earth and stars
Stand up and protect
the children,
the animals
and the earth?

When will we take back
Our God?
Our Mother?


Filed under Ethel Mortenson Davis, Poetry

The Leaving

a pastel and poem, in memoriam, by Ethel Mortenson Davis

The Poet’s Walk

The Mourning Cloaks 1
accompanied us
along our walk.

“They said,
“He loved and
not to be afraid.” 2

“That was the sum
of your being,
your purpose,
wasn’t it?

“Do you remember
when you told us,

‘Go take
the Poet’s Walk along
the Hudson River.
It’s a place I like
to go?”

So today we walk
The Poet’s Walk,
joined by the
Mourning Cloaks
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.


Filed under Art, Art by Ethel Mortenson Davis, Ethel Mortenson Davis

23. Creating a Dragon Out of Air

Wei waved her arms and saw the dragon grow,
The bones and flesh beneath scales pulsing life.
The image seemed to meld her blood with blood
Alive and moving through the morning’s sun.
Inside her mind she started singing, trying
To bring from light a life that flowed from hands
That conjured particles of light and made
them dragon flesh. Her voice, reverberating
With power larger than a little girl,
Rang out into the mountains, fields of snow.

She felt the dragon twist in front of her,
Saw dragon eyes look down into her eyes,
And felt the power in the spells she cast,
Her spirit singing hymns of earth-born bliss.
She’d never dreamed that she could see a dragon,
Feel deep into its spirit and its bones,
And conjure life from sunlight, empty air.
She felt as large as jagged mountain peaks
That rose majestically above the world.
Her voice rose deep into a dragon’s roar.
She breathed her life into the dragon’s life.
She reached for chaos where her mother’s hands
Were weaving magic through her hands,

But then she felt the dragon’s tail begin
To flicker as the whole she tried to hold
Inside her mind began to dissipate.
She quickly moved her hands, solidified
The tail, but as the image firmed, the life
Inside her voice began to skitter, fragment
Into a dance of light above the snow.
She reached out to her mother, tried to find
Her essence in the chaos of the light.
An overwhelming sense of emptiness
Engulfed her, causing her to feel how young
She was, how vulnerable, how lost.
The dragon, formed of light, collapsed as flesh
Became the molecules of nothingness.
The winter day was bright with morning sun.

She tried to find her mother in the maelstrom
Where death whirled clouds of souls into a dance
That had no individual substance, life.
She felt like wailing like a little girl
Whose mother slept inside her restless grave.
She held back sobs, got on her feet, and stumbled
Into the cottage to her mother’s bed.
Ssruanne, she told herself. Ssruanne still lives.

She tried to see her mother by the bed,
Her form half in the room, a wavering
Between the universe of death and life.
She waved her arms and tried to cast a spell
That penetrated boundaries and let
Her see her mother and her father’s forms,
But nothing happened. All her power wisped
Into the air and only let her touch
Her mother’s bed, an aching emptiness.

She felt the dragon’s scale upon her arm
Pulse hot with beating from a dragons’ heart.
She stared at where it glowed with dragon life,
A life inside of her that was not her.
Ssruanne, she thought. Ssruanne still lives.

The revelation seeped into her like
The rising of the pool where dragonflies
Assembled in the early days of summer.
The dragon scale was part of her, her flesh.
She’d conjured it without Ssruanne in front
Of her to make her feel how it should be.

She reached out to her mother once again.
She felt the knot of humans waving arms
Inside a wind that was no wind or substance.
She felt despair inside the knot, the sense
The gate they’d made had transferred dragon flesh
Into the world and now was closed for good,
Their power faltering inside the chaos.
Wei sent her mind into the place her mother
Had made outside her deathbed’s bleak despair.
The essence of her mother sensed her presence,
Surrounded her with deathless weaves of love.

Stunned, Wei sat on the floor and stared at where
The dragon scale, embedded in her arm,
Throbbed from the beating of a dragon’s hearts.
She was alone, she thought: No human friends,
No dragon friends, no family, alone.
The winter cold burned harshness through the world.
She wondered if she’d be alive come spring.

To listen to this section of the epic, click on Creating a Dragon out of Air.

Note: This is the twenty third installment of a long narrative poem, which has grown into an epic. Inspired by John Keats’ long narrative poem, Lamia, it tells a story set in ancient times when dragons and humans were at peace. Click on the numbers below to reach other sections, or go to the Categories box to the right under The Dragon Epic. Click on 1 to go to the beginning and read forward. Go to 22 to go to the section previous to this one. Go to 24 to read the next section of the epic.


Filed under Poetry, The Dragon Epic, Thomas Davis

Reflections of a Country Girl for her Mother

by Ethel Mortenson Davis

Once, when the creek
had swelled its banks in spring,
and I had run to meet its new boundaries
to build a raft again
that could carry me down the Little Sandy
toward lands unknown,
I was sidetracked by a patch
of blue and yellow violets—
too many to let go unnoticed,
found among the wet and shady places—
and I forgot about the countries unseen.

And in fist-fulls I came running,
sharing them with you—
and you received them well,
arranging them in glass jars,
teaching me to love
the spring beauties and things:
The funny-faced Holstein calves
and the timid chickadees
who came in December
to snatch your winter’s crumbs.

© 2011 White Ermine Across Her Shoulders


Filed under Ethel Mortenson Davis, Poetry

In the Night

by Ethel Mortenson Davis

I wanted to gather you
up in my arms,
like a mother
gathers her young,
and bring you back
to New Mexico—
a place you once loved.

I wanted to take
you away
from the suffocating people
in that room
so I could listen,
to your ragged

A gift
in the night.

© copyright 2011 White Ermine Across Her Shoulders


Filed under Ethel Mortenson Davis, Poetry

Sonnet 36

by Thomas Davis

What does it mean deep down, beneath all feelings,
all thought, the regularity of breath,
to have a son? Blood from your blood, the singing
as steady as your heartbeat, the length and breadth
of who you are as father, husband, man,
the meaning borne from father, mother, son
passed through to son and daughters, all the hands
humanity has known on days with blazing suns.
We ought to celebrate and really know
each moment when our voices weave a song
as powerful as any oratorio
that makes the love we feel forever strong.

I think about my son, his spirit’s gentleness,
his signature of passionate intelligence.


Filed under Poetry, Thomas Davis