Tag Archives: smell of death


by Ethel Mortenson Davis

I can’t remember when
the old man’s house became unliving,
when the closed-off rooms became closed-off
from life and put on the shelf,
unusable like the clock in the attic,
the meaning all but gone.

Like the grandchildren’s forgotten names–
who once were through his loins,
now faded memories–
where once the sea breezes of June
and August swept down the hills
and through the house where
the shell of a man sits,
a seashell washed up on the shoreline.

Life has long gone out,
and the smell of the air is overpowering,
and I turn away
because it is the smell of death.

The fresh sea breezes
blow down hills
sweet with the wild rose.


Filed under Ethel Mortenson Davis, Poetry