Loose stone slides out from beneath boots as we seekto hold back our weight from the bottom of the ravine.After a month of no rain, the streambeds are dry,and the shuffling dust rises around our legs,like the blush my mother used to prime her cheeksbefore going out with my father on Saturday nights.350 million years ago all of this was covered in water,a tidal flat where nodules formed under the seafloor.My mother still wears the sparkling brooch my father gave herhalf a century ago. When he was still alive, he loved to tracethe path of water, to search its course for the dull, round rockswhose rinds might hide something beautiful at their core.Each month, before we visit, my mother polishes her wedding ring,the glittering refraction of cut stone. She still flushes at the thoughtof his body when she tells me how they made love in the woodson their honeymoon. Often after a hike in the hills, my fatherwould take a geode he packed out, place it on a wooden slaband strike it with a hammer, splitting it in two. On lonely afternoonshis death still shatters my mother, and she calls to cry on the phone.After today's walk she takes one of his geodes from the shelf,insists I take it home. On the front seat the sun entersthe grinning mouth of crystals and shines so brightI have to close my eyes.
Copyright © 2019 by Todd Davis
All rights reserved.
Reproduced by Poetry Daily with permission.
Todd Davis is the author of six full-length collections of poetry—Native Species; Winterkill; In the Kingdom of the Ditch; The Least of These; Some Heaven; and Ripe—as well as of a limited-edition chapbook, Household of Water, Moon, and Snow. He edited the nonfiction collection, Fast Break to Line Break: Poets on the Art of Basketball, and co-edited the anthology Making Poems. His writing has won the Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Bronze and Silver Awards, the Gwendolyn Brooks Poetry Prize, the Chautauqua Editors Prize, and has been nominated several times for the Pushcart Prize. His poems appear in such noted journals and magazines as Alaska Quarterly Review, American Poetry Review, Barrow Street, Gettysburg Review, Iowa Review, Missouri Review, North American Review, Orion, Poetry Northwest, Sycamore Review, West Branch, and Poetry Daily. He teaches environmental studies, creative writing, and American literature at Pennsylvania State University’s Altoona College.
“Many poets feel that they know the natural world, but Todd Davis has absorbed this world fully into his heart and mind. He is a fine, rare poet.”
—Jim Harrison, author of Legends of the Fall and The Shape of the Journey
“Todd Davis’s beautiful new book looks with patience, ardor, and often heartbreak at his beloved landscapes—both literal and figurative—and the ways those landscapes change, always change. Whether it’s the land being ruined, the aging or dying of family and friends, or his own body turning and turning toward what it does, Davis holds his gaze steadily upon it all, gently upon it all, which makes for some mourning but also plenty of magic. A good deal of sorrow but even more wonder. Even more wonder. Look closely, this book reminds me. Look closer still.”
—Ross Gay, winner of a 2015 National Book Critics Circle Award and the 2016 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award for Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude
“The poems in this extraordinary collection ruffle and rasp from 'the spiraled song of a hermit thrush, like a hand / that pushes against the solid door of a veiled world.' Davis’s command and keen survey of the outdoors is at once majestically extensive and disarmingly precise and compassionate. And yet these nature poems do what most cannot: in spite of fanciful moments where one can wake 'to a hummingbird / beating its wings / against the roof of my mouth,' they also serve as a much-needed guidepost and catalyst for wanting to create even more songs of this complicated earth."
—Aimee Nezhukumatathil, author of Oceanic and Lucky Fish