Amy E. Davis










Since the door is gone

       the walls cannot shelter.


Let the roof

       become a platform.


There are

       possibilities here.




Where No Fish Swim


This is not what you think, at least not yet. It is not likely to describe

how the wind came up to corrugate the plane of the Pacific. Or how,

when water mirrors darkened clouds, it appears deep canyons reach


from deep to land. Long ago, I lived in an attic near a red stone cliff.

In summer, climbers filled its path. In winter, steam stretched

barely into radiators three flights above the boiler. Gloved,


wearing two pairs of heavy socks and a turquoise mohair quilt,

I typed on an old electric keyboard. This doesn’t mention that the sea

gets sprinkled with sailboats on the warmest days or note the pelicans


flying over the road miles south of where they roost. Or that gulls

sit atop buildings miles inland, where no fish swim. I hold an off-white

ocarina a friend lent me from his childhood. Made of clay, the color of fog,


its bright glazed dots sing of leaves and flowers. It has gentle tone.

The geese honked south last night, unseeable above the low

wet clouds. They sounded a deliberate flight path through the dark.


I didn’t suppose a small piped song would bring you to my mind. Leave me

wondering why. Asking what gulls might seek in town, so far past the strand.




Between the Bands


A tree stump, freshly cut,

stands five strides up the hill.

I want to count its rings,

but the core is hollow,

filling fast with newborn weeds.


Every half mile, the phone buzzes.

Rattlers have turned to bees.

I keep walking.

I am wearing the wrong shoes.


I stop to trace the pattern

of a red-tailed hawk,

wide white wings low

above the roadway.

My healing foot protests


with the timbre of the owl

that greets the coyotes

crossing to the park at dawn.


Before the boulevard turns fast,

they trot from urban foray

to a den within the disarray

that hems them in. But a hawk


travels far. As its wings’

black fringes draw a ragged edge

to the steady circle, I whisper

stretch the circumference 

of your glide.


The median greenery that hides

its prey is narrow, squeezed by bands

of chasing cars. Why should it not

swing wide enough

to reach the nearby hills?


I remove a pebble wedged

against my heel, listen

to the tide too far for eye

or ear. Scan the sidewalk

for the shade of a standing tree.











I’m New York born but have spent most of my adult life in California. A historian as well as a poet, I have an AB from Cornell University and a PhD from Columbia University, and I have taught at UCLA and Purdue. My less poetic side has written on the politics of economic policy in the Kennedy administration. My poetry has been published in Crab Orchard Review, Tar River Poetry, Women’s Studies, and elsewhere



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