Poetry

Linda M. Sheffield


The Visions

They met, Orson, Hyrum, with others
In the sparse shade from cottonwoods
Shadowing the Montrose School.
Cotton snow drifted feathery
To float in the icewater barrel.
Joseph sipped the cool water,
Cupped in hands, guided by God,
And it became Rocky Mountain
Crystal in a stream, snow
Melted from another Sinai
To bathe and feed those
Driven by the burning mobs.
The sun, hot on the desert,
Prismed into amber light of wheat,
Mellow in fields and meadows,
Farmyards with silver silos,
Leaf green orchards hung with
Crimson fruit which glistened
In the lavender of sunsets
Overlaid on the day’s blue.
Hidden in the brush base of mountains
Bloomed wild roses and blue clover.
Away, he saw the graves,
Marked along the rutted trails to Zion,
Mud-hard, cracked to faces
Of apostasy that forced murder
In lands outside of Eden.
But a golden-spired temple
Reached an angel to him
And to God, whose hand lifted
Valleys above deserts in a dream,
Not of air, but fertile earth,
And he heard a voice
Whisper him westward.
Emma polished the maple desk
And wound the gold-layered clock.
She hung prisms on the chandelier,
Light reflecting on cut-glass crystal,
Daisies floating in a water bowl
Beside a pitcher, plum colored
As the china basin.
She hung embroidered samplers
In the warmth of copper kitchen,
Swept the primrose carpet,
Walked barefoot in the lawns
Outside the house.
She cuddled a child,
Laid him soft in a feather bed,
And turned back to the desk
To write her prophet
Of the mansion she could not leave.
Joseph held the letter,
Sadly sweet-scented,
And summer’s day calm
Crossed the Mississippi,
Another lamb for a world
That could not comprehend the first.

Wheels and Time

Beneath the new-leafed cottonwoods,
Forgotten, lichen-covered, age-greying,
A wagon wheel on a broken axle
Slants into the stream.
The worn iron rim, long rusted,
Catches, swirls the water in silent eddy,
Trapping leaves, water skippers, wild rose petals,
Churning the flotsam like yesterday’s dust
When they walked beside the wagon,
Marking the hours of the day by the turning of the wheel;
Watching the dust puff up—
Riding the rim, drifting back—
Swelling to waist-high waves,
Billowing on the prairie wind;
Where rain-soaked, bone-weary they bent, braced,
Helped the jaded team drag out the buried wheels, and sighed,
Straightening slowly, as the wheels clutched,
Caught the strength of sage root, buffalo grass, buckweed;
And they walked westward, always westward,
Sunset in their faces,
Until finally they followed the wheel track
Through the fresh-fallen snow, the chilling mountain wind,
Into the shrouded valley below—
Home—where
Today the wheel leans in shadowed coolness,
Water-washed, time-washed, trapping rose petals,
Leaning quietly in the late afternoon sun,
Churning the flotsam, awaiting tomorrow’s dust.