I was first exposed to Amanda Davis when I bought her collection of short stories, Circling the Drain (1999). It is a collection of fifteen short stories told from the perspective of young women who, despite their vastly different circumstances, seem to negotiate an eerily similar and unavoidably dangerous emotional terrain. Each of these women are trying to understand the nature of loss – of leaving or being left – and discovering that in the throes of feverish conflict, things are rarely what they seem. Ironically, Amanda’s first novel, Wonder When You’ll Miss Me, was published just a short time before her death.
She was traveling in a private plane that was taking her on a publicity tour for her novel when it crashed into a mountain 18 miles from Asheville, NC. Her father, Dr. James Davis was piloting the plane, and her mother, Francie Davis, was traveling with them. Dr. Davis was chairman of the neurology department at Stony Brook University Medical School in Stony Brook, N.Y. Mrs. Davis was an assistant professor and the chief librarian at Dowling College in Oakdale, N.Y. No one survived the crash.
I was thinking about Amanda’s death one afternoon in late 2003 when I was compelled to write a poem as a tribute.
I’m sorry you died;
Were you scared?
Could you tell what was happening?
What did you feel first,
The coppery taste of fear on your tongue
Or the shudder of the wings?
I wonder if you were writing;
I can only imagine what you were thinking.
I look at your photograph
Tucked inside the back cover of your book;
I smile, softly, sadly,
And I place my fingers on your face;
I watch, helpless, as you circle down,
Ending prematurely, inexplicably;
Nothing is the same anymore.