Hoped-for Son

We are not disappointed,
Though he came with pain—
To our home, no child
Comes unhoped for.
Will we grudge the time we waited?
We just regret how
Fast the times goes now.
What of Christ the Anointed?
Awaited for millennia,
Hoped for, longed for,
He came as small, as painfully
As our son, whom we celebrated
Yesterday; who, because of Christ,
Is ours twice:
Here, where death still reigns,
And there, where death wanes,
Where love is in the sunlight
And the cooling rains.

For Mary Lydia: From a Parent Left Behind

you were not born for sorrow.
I cannot even mourn for you: a few hours
beneath the stars, a name, a covenant,
a safe and shining flight across the sky.
I mourn, instead, for myself,
for my mortal fears, my pain,
for my world-weariness,
for my dark nights. But you, my child,
did not come for such grief.
Someday I shall teach you of this green earth:
of small warm animals,
of cornfields and clay,
of birds that can’t fly,
and of the fear of falling.
And though your new home is
grander, your new life
more splendid, your new world
much lighter, much warmer
than this,
I believe all will be
more beautiful
when I hold you again.

Water Master

Ensign Poetry Contest Winner First Place
He groans at the headgate,
Visceral groans,
His hands wrenched by the weight
Of the board, alone
On the hill.
All earth thirsts for his lifting,
Cracked in the sorrow of sun,
Blistered by arid winds drifting
Dust fields to oblivion.
Trembling to open the sluice
He leans over the world to unloose
An outpouring that purls
Over parched ground where he moves
To let the floodgate water in:
Earth breathes to the current
Surging crystalline.

Forever Now

Ensign Poetry Contest Winner Second Place
Once he has plunged his hand
Into a rainbow—been stunned
At the swim of color on his skin—
A man can never be the same.
He will begin to pray the rain down
At the slightest breeze or hint of cloud
And see for the first time blossoms
Change texture in a day
And not look away.
It was etched in stone:
Eternity is learning
To stay Forever Now.
Yet know, as geese glide low
And lower into the fields
Finding the view diminished,
Near is sometimes too far to see.
A man cannot wait upon the day
That he might bathe in a cloud of butterflies
Shimmering warmly in the sun, soft wings
Pouring over his shoulders like a velvet waterfall.
That could happen once in a trillion years.
Thou shalt therefore ponder:
Is this very hour his last best chance
To watch the wind roll waves through seas of wheat,
Or gaze on glistening webbed medallions spun beneath the dew?
A man may work his welcome on our world,
Or waiting for an endless end may ever wait
And never on this earth confirm that now is new.

The Amber Yield

Ensign Poetry Contest Winner Third Place
Against the wind he struggled
To reap the honest grain
of hard-sown seeds.
among unruly weeds, he wept
remembering self-promises unkept,
and golden, unplucked fruit
on heavy bough
surrounded by quick thorn
and thistle now.
So darkly, through the glass he sees,
Forgetting face-to-face
which later comes,
Yearning for established trees
long-distant from this foreign place.
My brother,
sorrow cannot show
upon what kindly greening field,
plowed by time and weary tread,
awakening from dormancy of years,
sprout and grow,
and amber yield,
the seeds you dropped unnoticed,
and watered with your tears.

I Can Still Hear Grandmother’s Visions

Eliza R. Snow Poetry Contest Winner First Place
I can still hear grandmother’s visions
back and forth
the floorboards and the rockerbands
curled in a perfect motion
her fingers in and out my braids
or needle-eye that got too small too soon
her finger-wrapped tapping
the pen-point
against the pages of her life
there in her lap
that made room for me
for the stories
of times past and times to come—I can hear them
rocking back and forth—visions
I called them that I cannot quite remember now
though I can still feel
their motion
rocking quickly like the sound of thread sewing
through the cloth of my grandmother’s life
stitching her truth to me—a common thread
good for seams and patches
winding itself
echoing through time kept to the beat of spindles
and treadles rocking
threading through candlelit nights and backbreaking labor
of children lost and raised,
lives painstakingly,
anciently woven and spun
cut and pieced and sewn the length of my identity
by grandmother’s dreams, by her stories
where women, looking for Light
and finding it
were clothed in the garments of God’s Holy Love
and bound to Him and to each other in Nauvoo,
in Council Bluffs, in a hundred other frontier places—
bound by a common thread, a gesture
passed mother to daughter, sister to sister, friend
to friend.
A pattern
worn into my life
by the constant heartbeat
rocking back and forth
of my grandmother’s visions.

Lone Woman: Charity (Arms) Everts

Eliza R. Snow Poetry Contest Winner Second Place
She must have been whip-thin to make that trek
Across the continent, her body taut
As wet rawhide, her courage ramrod stiff.
How else to leave those little graves behind,
Six of the ten she bore, one slashed to death
By peccaries, in shallow slits of earth,
That one long gash beneath a spreading oak
From one black, fatal day in Illinois
Before they reached Nauvoo to join the Saints.
The solemn workmen brought her Joshua,
Her life, her love, the husband half of her,
His body shattered by a falling tree,
To live but briefly, dying in her arms.
Through ashen, urgent lips he begged her go.
“Go with the Saints. Let nothing interfere.
To Zion, to The Kingdom—for our sakes.”
Alone, with little children, yet alone,
No man to lift the heavy oxen yoke,
To grease a squeaking wheel, to take her turn
Night-herding animals, to shift the load
Of heavy boxes in the wagon bed—
To take command, to comfort her in grief
When children slipped from life. To dig their graves.
Some things I know of her, her gentle birth
Of stern New England stock, no foe to work,
For she could wash and card and spin a fleece
And weave it into cloth. She knew the dyes
Of walnut, madder root and indigo.
Her even stitch became her livelihood.
I hope her feet were cased in cowhide boots,
Her body wrapped against the elements
For I am hers three mothers down. I yearn
To see her face and listen to her words.
She made of tragedy a martyr’s gift
To God, and blessings of adversity.
But more than all of these her spirit soared
Above the mud of Iowa, the endless plain,
The rivers she must ford, the mountain heights.
The clumsy, ox-drawn wagon, lit by faith
Became for her a chariot of fire.

Harvest Grain of God

Eliza R. Snow Poetry Contest Winner Third Place
Tiny seed of my body,
Blessed fruit of my womb,
Would that I might guide thee
Even beyond the tomb.
Would that I might nourish thee,
Watch thee,
Weed thee,
Love thee,
Lead thee,
Would that I might light thee
Against the darkest doom.
Budding love of my love,
Flower-breath of my sigh,
Would that I might home thee
In heaven after we die.
Would that I might strengthen thee,
Root thee,
Raise thee,
Ripe’ thee,
Reap thee,
Would that I could gain thee
Celestial worlds on high.
Precious child of my bearing,
Cherished spirit child of God,
Would that I might keep thee
From the choking sod.
Would that thou might drink
From the waters of His laud.
Would that thou might be
White harvest grain of God.