“And may our sleep be sweet this night.”
The ritual words, resonant, clear,
That ended every family
Came as relief to us whose plight
You never seemed to feel. Your long
And earnest prayer stretched forth
Embracing everything of worth
And everyone: His mighty throng,
His tender care, his love, his birth,
His bounteous blessings, all our health
And strength, our heritage, our length
Of space and time on blessed earth,
Our onion patch, the dryfarm wheat,
President Grant, our loved ones all,
Leaders of nations, any who call
On him in pain or sorrow, the feet
Of missionaries that they be led
To doors of honest in heart, the poor
The sick and afflicted, all those sore
In heart or mind, even our dead.
Thus you’d solicit blessings from
An unseen power you’d never think
To doubt: you knew how deep we drink
From wells we can’t begin to plumb.
To us who knelt on hardwood floors
And felt the creep of time across
The grain that marked our knees, the loss
Of play on summer nights outdoors
Kept all but echoes of your words
Along the surface of our minds.
We felt few doubts about the kinds
Of beings and powers up there where birds
Could soar and sing, beyond our reach,
Their bright evangels to our God;
You’d taught us much about the word,
His rod, to let us know he’d teach
Us more. Content with that we’d keep
A restless sense of all that flow
Of words we knew, like us, must go
At last and finally down to sleep.
And sleep we did. Our work and play
Would help your invocation hold
—But benediction too: You’d fold
Us in your love: How could we stray?
Yes, we squirmed enough and more.
But found your prayer fulfilled in us
As now we find your life is just
Fulfilled in death. And now the store
Of fruit you brought, as mellow too
As you’d become, will save us from
The grief we can’t but feel. You’ve come
To rest—the only kind you’d know.
As now you move through dark to light:
We softly sing you on your way—
You’d never stop, even with your day,
But may your sleep be sweet this night.