Eliza R. Snow Poetry Contest Winners

By Charlotte Teresa Reynolds


Indian Grandmother

First Place Eliza R. Snow Poetry Contest
Old One,
Forgive me for the long
Dark braids that do not
Fall down my back
And do not brush the arm
Of a fine strong husband,
As yours did.
Forgive me
For the pale words
And gray thoughts
That kept your
Good red blood
Out of my heart
For lo these long years,
These years of growing
Out of myself
And into God,
Out of despair
And into humility.
Old One,
When you find Him,
Tell Him of my love,
Tell Him I am finally
Receiving with upturned
Hands the gifts He has been
Drenching me with
Patiently,
Tenderly,
Constantly.
Tell Him how I love seeing
Your name every time I write
My own.
Tell Him I get up
Every morning
Joyous
With my heritage from Him
And my legacy from you.
Old One,
Think well of this,
Your daughter in flesh.
Speak kindly of me
When the moon begins
To bleed and He dons His
Wine-red robe.
Call me now, Old One;
Call my name
And whisper yours,
So that, hearing
Your voice, I may better
Be attuned for His.

[photo] Photograph from Edward S. Curtis’s North American Indian Collection, Brigham Young University

Sonnet to Mission-bound Sons and Daughters

Third Place Eliza R. Snow Poetry Contest
From guarded reservoirs of life, we spill
You forth, young streams, to gather droplets, grow,
And spread abroad on thirsty acres, fill
A wilderness with emerald foliage, flow
In freshets prisming the morning sun.
Then may you nurture beauty all along
And bless the favored channels where you run,
While rippling laggard pebbles into song.
Soon, distance will divide you from this source,
Your harbored innocence. We set you free,
Unfettered in your press to seek the course
Which must reflect your choice, unerringly.
We could not, would not, stay your fluid feet.
We watch you go and count our portion sweet.

[photo] Photography by Jeri Ann Barrus

Lydia, Seller of Purple (Acts 16:14–15)

Second Place Eliza R. Snow Poetry Contest
“What is this Sabbath,” they ask who pursue Artemis,
“That Lydia, seller of purple, consummate matron of the marketplace
In Philippi, should lock us from her shop one day in seven?”
They cannot know how I in the brightness of noonfire
Came gratefully to the code of Moses. The Lord thy God
Shall prosper thee, Lydia of Thyatira;
Thou shalt keep the Sabbath holy unto Him.
When moon gloss and silk of night unfold into Sabbath dawn,
I with my household and other soft-tongued women of decision
Gather us streamside to chant the ancient melody.
A longing for truth pulls us to grass under our knees:
“Thou has given us the Law, great God of Abraham;
Teach us now its deeper meaning.”
One latticed Sabbath morning, when the sky like a great joy
Postured us before curtains of sunlight and the stream
Wore a silence shimmering as love, bright with the light
Of Heaven came to us Paul and Silas, bearing an eloquent testament.
The miracles they told wrote truth’s considerable duty
On my life: The Redeemer that Isaiah prophesied has come;
Gravely He lived among us, filling His messianic mission—
He healed the sick, gave light to sightless eyes
And fed the listening multitudes at Galilee—till magistrates,
Blinded by His unfamiliar light, shouted Him to the cross.
Even the tomb could not contain him; He rose from death.
“He lives,” sang Paul, “and He will always live.
He is the Purpose in our purpose here.”
Sun-jeweled hours dwindled to evening shades; moonlight wrapped
Itself around us. Still we listened, learning. What beauty
In this widening of truth—wisdom echoing wisdom, faith
Kindling faith. Henceforth the Law would flourish in a new
Dimension. Henceforth the Law would sing with the voice of harps;
For He taught a loftier concept—we are all God’s children:
Thou shalt love diligently the Lord thy God;
Then thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.
“Make me,” I said to Paul, “an instrument of His perfect Love;
Let me be advocate for Him in Philippi.
Then when they ask, they who follow Artemis,
‘What is this Sabbath that Lydia, seller of purple,
Should lock us from her shop one day in seven?’
I shall exulting answer, ‘He who made the world and spoke the Law
Has given me voice. Join me; fervent in the Sabbath dawn
I celebrate His love, His light, His Church in Philippi.
He lives to endow our lives with hope and meaning.’”

[photo] Photography by Eldon Linschoten