Two Poems

Todd Davis

Before My Mother’s Funeral

Dressed in his preaching suit, raven squawks 

about what we’re given and what we give 

ourselves over to. 


The last of the forest churches are being sawn, 

toppled to make a thing we can sit on or eat from. 


The trees look back at us and see only emptiness. 


In turn we dig holes deep in the dirt’s chest: 

a people of fire burning what will burn. 


On her deathbed my mother swore 

she heard the Lord God bird knocking. 


The proof’s in the body, but the coroner 

won’t open the drawer.



                                                       Wake Up, Sleeper, and Arise

                                                                        The third of thirteen moons appears 

                                                                        between rainstorms. My mother is unable

                                                                        to fix her mind for even a few moments. 

                                                                        Night removes the bandages from its eyes, 

                                                                        squints through the slits of stars. 

                                                                        Beyond the window she spies late river ice 

                                                                        cut by soft light and flood water. 

                                                                        A piece of reflected sky in the hands 

                                                                        of the suffering. A pane to peer through, 

                                                                        to raise and round the moon in. 

                                                                        Her thoughts turn over on swift river 

                                                                        currents, and she calls for us to rise. 

                                                                        We already stand in a circle 

                                                                        around the bed.



Headshot | Todd Davis


TODD DAVIS is the author of seven books of poetry, most recently Coffin Honey and Native Species, both published by Michigan State University Press. He has won the Midwest Book Award, the Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Bronze and Silver Awards, the Gwendolyn Brooks Poetry Prize, the Chautauqua Editors Prize, and the Bloomsburg University Book Prize. His poems appear in such journals and magazines as Alaska Quarterly Review, American Poetry Review, Gettysburg Review, Iowa Review, Missouri Review, North American Review, Orion, Southern Humanities Review, and Western Humanities Review. He teaches environmental studies at Pennsylvania State University’s Altoona College.