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Poetry Moment: 'The Kingdom of God is Like This' by Todd Davis

Todd Davis
Todd Davis

This is Poetry Moment on WPSU, a program featuring the work of contemporary Pennsylvania poets. I’m Marjorie Maddox, professor of English and Creative Writing at the Lock Haven campus of Commonwealth University.

This episode's poem is “The Kingdom of God Is Like This” by Todd Davis.

For the past 20 years, Todd Davis has lived between the villages of Bellwood and Tipton along the Allegheny Front. He is a professor of Environmental Studies at Penn State Altoona and the author of seven full-length collections of poetry, most recently Coffin Honey and Native Species, both published by Michigan State University Press. His writing has won the Midwest Book Award, the Gwendolyn Brooks Poetry Prize, the Chautauqua Editors Prize, the Bloomsburg University Book Prize, and the Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Silver and Bronze Awards. He often writes about bear and brook trout out of his love and concern for these native species. Todd Davis was host of WPSU’s Poetry Moment from August through May of 2023.

Follow a stream from mountain to valley, and you’ll discover much more than what eyes or ears, alone, make possible. In today’s poem, “The Kingdom of God Is Like This,” Todd Davis transcends the tangible and the temporary. Through his words, we arrive at that sacred space where natural and spiritual converge—where “pause” is a prayer, water a wise guide, and all forms of life rise and dive, then rise again. In this poetic parable, we enter a kingdom full of instinct, instruction, ritual, and divine wonder. We inhabit a new heaven within an ancient earth.

Here’s —

The Kingdom of God Is like This

There is a pool halfway down the mountain
            where water falls across rock. Bear know this
                         place and come to drink and to eat trout

who look out from under the swirl and bubble
            of blown-glass. The sky is green with hemlock,
                         and when the wind comes hard, hemlock needles

stain the stream’s skin. On its way to the valley
            the water disappears for a time, descends
                         into the hollow places that honeycomb the earth.

Because the water flows in the dark, crawls
            on its knees through dirt, it is made clean.
                         There is no pain in the dark, and when the water

surfaces, it flows by a hayfield filled with timothy
            and clover. Despite the sun that shines upon its back,
                         there is no more or less happiness, no more or less suffering.

- - - -

That was “The Kingdom of God Is Like This” by Todd Davis.

Listen for Poetry Moment, with Marjorie Maddox, Monday's during Morning Edition and All Things Considered on WPSU.

You can hear more episodes at

Our theme music is by Eric Ian Farmer.

Marjorie Maddox is the host of WPSU's Poetry Moment for the 2023-24 season. She has been a professor of English and creative writing since 1990 at the Lock Haven campus of Commonwealth University.