Earth Woman

First Place Poem Relief Society–Ensign Writing Contest
You were there on the summit of
a lush, green hill in Rhodes with
toothless smile, kerchiefed hair,
goatskin boots flapping in the dust,
bundling sticks on your donkey cart.
You were on the glistening, whitewashed
streets of Lindos, too—a scarf of white,
crinkled lines laced across your face
as intricately designed as the doilies
placed on tissue waiting for my dime.
I felt your mourning when I saw your
scarf of black. You were on your doorstoop
in Santorini spinning wool, haunted eyes
looking toward the sea that held your man.
Cradled in Bavarian Alps, scrubbing down
your cow, you burnished brown hide as
bright as the pail where milk would spill.
You were Anna the guide in Salzburg,
climbing steps each day, more than is in
the remembering of your eighty years—your
parchment skin stretched taut, your eyes blue as
mist and warm as lanterns on the cemetery hill.
You wore a long, black cape of wool in
Oberammergau, your eyes black, vivid as your
voice telling of an ancient plague and pledge.
On the road to Nazareth you were threshing
wheat, gathering sheaves, throwing them high
in the sun; your hair tied back, lips open
with fire and faith in growth of grain.
I saw you on my way to Rome. You were
working in the grapes, thick juice running
purple splotches down your skirt.
Woman of earth, you are everywhere.
You don’t know me, but I know you.
I have seen a thousand of your kind.
You have never seen my land but you were there.
I saw you long ago on hills and plains, trudging
with timeworn feet along the wagon trains.
You are the heart of the song, song of living,
holding tight to the branch, bearing down in pain.
Whatever your name,
Receiver of seed, heart of the giving.
The savor, the salt of the earth,
Mother of living.
You were always there, face upturned in prayer.

Sister Cook is a teacher in the Ogden (Utah) 53rd Ward Relief Society and the mother of three children.

Of Breath and Sound

Second-Place Poem Relief Society–Ensign Writing Contest
Blow, soft wind, to Chinnereth, the sapphire sea;
Over the fields of lilies go, to Galilee.
How many mists from there have risen,
How many dews dropped down,
Since Jesus came to us from heaven
And walked the dusty town?
Blow, blithe wind, to the land he graced, anciently.
Make of the water a golden harp, a lyre each tree.
There in the sand was his footprint made,
Seaward his feet once moved;
Where on the soil or the tender blade
Was his presence proved?
Blow, soft wind, for we hear the sound of mourning men.
Carry the cloud to the parched place. We thirst again.
Though earth and water his image knew,
They show no mark of his feet or hand;
In fertile heart where the seedlings grew
His orchards stand.
Blow, glad wind, over Chinnereth, to the world again,
Bring the sound of his voice to us—renewing rain.
From where he lives and views his sea,
Those shining shores the heavens keep,
Blow, lovely wind, that we might be
Awakened from our sleep.

Sister Perry, the mother of six children, is Relief Society cultural refinement teacher in the Bountiful (Utah) 31st Ward.

Love, Forever

Third Place Poem Relief Society–Ensign Writing Contest
You asked me to write in rhyme.
Darling, I cannot measure love in meter,
Nor express my love in words.
Can you describe quiet streams, unhurried dreams
In measured feelings, chopped, sifted through screens?
Our love, like the flight of birds,
Sails on through space: free, eternal. But sweeter—
Love, forever, beyond the end of time.

Sister Russell, a homemaker, serves in the Sunday School and Relief Society in the Champaign Ward, Illinois Stake.

The Prophet’s Word

A Poem for President Harold B. Lee

On March 28 President Harold B. Lee, eleventh prophet, seer, and revelator and President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, will observe his seventy-fourth birthday anniversary. With this poetic tribute, the Ensign joins with members of the Church everywhere in extending to him our love and best wishes.

The Prophet speaks!
What shall he say to this generation?
For this last day, what is his word?
Joseph received the Word
And set the kingdom in eternity.
Other prophets built in a desert waste,
then took the Word to all the world.
Here is another prophet of the Lord.
A young boy in a field heard, “Don’t …”
and heeded the Word. The Word is his life.
Teaching in country schools in Idaho,
tracting in the high Rockies,
sitting in city councils,
reasoning together with the brethren—
the Word has steadied him.
Here is one
who has lived intimately with his fellowmen,
who has measured the infinite dignity of each heart,
who has borne the struggle of the human soul,
who has known loyalty, friend to friend.
He says one word, as Jesus did:
“Love. Love one another.”
Here is a man of compassion.
He has heard the cry of the needy,
has visited the sorrowing and the suffering.
His heart beats with the pulse of the people.
He offers the promise and hope of a plan that says
“Share. Help one another.”
Here stands a witness to the Son of God,
holding the holy priesthood,
praising its power.
What can this prophet say
to stem a rising apathy,
to quicken faith,
or turn a heart to truth?
What is his word?
To all mankind, he says:
“Keep the commandments. Keep the commandments.”