At My Daughter’s Baptism
First Place All-Church Poetry Contest
And Eve … was glad, saying: Were it not for our transgression, we never should have had seed, and never should have known … the joy of our redemption (Moses 5:11).
Child, see the fawn high-bounding,
vaulting the road, tracing the leaping doe
to the spring spurting around the pipe wounding
the soft earth. You know
the water, the toes gripping the wet stones,
the cupped hand running over, the slow
drinking, the glad moans.
Now hear the dawn’s great trumpet blasting
gold fanfare over the ridge: green
aspens shiver in the rushing sound, a casting
of bright echoes between
the summit and the far mountains. The peacock may
proceed to spread his burning eyes, to preen,
to strut across the day.
Tonight, beyond the dusty hours, when the coals
lie like hot-bellied clouds within
the glowing pit and the night like airy stoles
upon our shoulders, the thin
veils that keep us from the stars will fly
loose in the night wind, and we will spin
glass cartwheels in the sky.
Pale Woman, Lean Woman
Third Place Eliza R. Snow Poetry Contest
In the husk of bodies
Hunched in the heat
A pale woman, lean woman
Falls by his feet.
The Nazarene passes
Flanked by a multitude,
Sandaled and robed;
Her hand reaches out,
Pale woman, lean woman
Touches his hem,
Brushes his garment
Skimming the stones,
And his spirit quickens
Her leadlike bones.
Pale woman, lean woman,
Her faith is her plea
As he asks by the roadside
“Who touched me?”
Second Place Eliza R. Snow Poetry Contest
“California? But there’s gold here!”
With baffled eyes you searched the sand and sage,
You planted the seeds I brought from home.
There was little hope that they would grow,
But you put them in the ground.
Six feet-three inches, dressed in field dust
Stooping over a tiny flower bed
And watering it with your faith.
Ten days brought them green against the cabin gray.
Then came the morning
I turned from dumping dish water to see them.
Open—bright and flooding golden summer on our step.
You were gone that morning, Andrew,
When Nathan first did the milking
All by himself.
Our ten-year-old, fair-haired boy
Came up from the barn
Pulling at the bucket almost bigger than himself
A smile spread clear across his freckles
With the early sun glistening through his hair.
There was that September Brother Schultz got typhus
And we took Nate and John and everybody came—
Brown farmers and bare-foot children
Taking fruit from trees that bore them.
I sat tired and sticky by the wagon.
Baskets, boxes smelling sweet
Piled with peaches
Yellow-orange and glowing—fairly glowing.
Arthur said that it was yellow money.
Sister Anna said that friends were “Good as …”
Andrew, you should see the sun now.
It’s a huge circle of molten lava
Slipping—heavy—into Johnston’s Valley.
The fire has splashed into the sky
And all the clouds are blazing—white, amber, crimson.
Rays have reached across the valley
Painting the mountains rich yellow-gold,
Changing the rock to glowing magnificence.
Well, here’s a drop of that luster.
They’re butter-cups—early ones.
My fingers aren’t so stiff
That I couldn’t pick them for you.
Lovely, aren’t they? Simple, pure and hardy
Like the land they grew from.
I hope that they will grow here
When I join you.
It’s only right
Their gold will be the monument to show
We found our treasure here.