Poetry

By Esther Clark Smith


Psalm

Thy word is boundless,
Oh God,
And thy work eternal.
Thy love reaches out
Beyond the farthest stars.
In my despair, Oh Lord,
Thou dost reach through
To the center of me
And there dost cup thy hand
About the flickering candle
Of my soul.
Thy word is eternal
Oh God,
And I rejoice in
The soft word of my salvation.
Thy heart delighteth in
The soul of man
And thou hast heaped up treasures
Of gold in kind hearts
And diamonds in loving hands.
Thou shalt turn him about
That he linger no more
With the world—
That he hunger no more
For that which fails.
Yea, thou makest man to grow
In thy light—
To prosper and be satisfied
Only in thy ways.
Oh, Lord God, turn thy children
From paths of dust
To eternal ways of righteousness.
Then teach me to fill my heart
With the forgotten, whose
Spirits fail;
Teach me
To cup mine hand about their hearts,
To kindle their soul-flames
Anew,
That thy glory
May fold them about
And see them safe
Into eternity.

Encore

On the first warm morning
he played
his cornet
for the valley to hear,
and people pausing in their milking or
the feeding of children
knew summer
had come.
He played
on special days
when hay was thick in the fields,
a good rain
had fallen,
and sometimes for no reason at all
except that yellow roses
were so heavy with blossoms,
the fences sagged.
A shoemaker,
looking the same in a leather apron
or a brown suit,
he grew old playing for weddings,
funerals,
and those occasions when
an old soldier faded away
or a young one
came home,
cold and rigid under a flag,
sounding taps so tenderly
mourners
stopped their sorrowing
to listen.
When death came,
the children
following his plan
erected a stone carrying his name
under a line
of music
from a cornet cadenza;
and in the cemetery, as the sun
comes up
when the hay
is thick,
a good rain has fallen,
or yellow roses
are shining on the fences,
people say
sometimes
you can hear the old man
playing it.

The Call

Yesterday, or so it seems,
I heard my mother call,
“Come home now, dear.”
And pleading, childlike,
I begged for time to finish playing,
For I had just begun.
“Please, not yet!”
She understood and, smiling,
Granted one more hour.
Seasons passed; my life was full
Of love and sweet content.
Suddenly, “Come home,” I heard,
And pleading childlike,
I prayed for time to finish living,
For I had just begun.
“Please, not yet!”
He heard and answered
But did not say how long.
Remembering, I sometimes fear
That as todays are spent,
My borrowed hours
Are worldly, wasted,
For I may hear, perhaps tomorrow,
“Come home, just as you are.”
Ready? Worthy?
Too well I know—
No time to finish then.