1991 Eliza R. Snow Poetry Contest Winners

By Paul C. Beer

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Peach Benediction

Honorable Mention
That last piece of fruit
Sitting in the peach juice pool
At the bottom of the bread bowl,
More easily drunk than sliced,
Ripeness dripping from its
Blanched and peeled flesh,
Shall not follow the others
Into bottles scrubbed and boiled,
Topped with brass lids,
Steamed shut—
Shall not be sugared, syruped, or preserved.
For I shall eat it.
It is my just dessert.

Light (After D&C 88:7–13)

First Place
Light sprays swirling stars through black of night,
Surges incandescent nebular eddies,
Splashes constellations on our sight,
We who walk a spinning mote that steadies
Itself by Kolob’s star in tethered flight.
Light rolls Earth around a moon-wound course,
Daily dusk and dawn defining time,
Tides and seasons swinging from this source.
It dictates whether jet streams plunge or climb
And chutes them over land with measured force.
A hurricane in gyre approaching land
And stirring waves to ride beyond the shore
Submits its screaming edge to Light’s command
To stroke the prairie grasses as before.
Light can build a forest without hands,
Generating pillars, spreading dome,
Informing leaves for green and glowing walls.
Light lays up then melts the snow on stone,
Forging slender streams and misted falls.
Dissolving granite, lichen kindles loam
That burns as bitter cress in rabbit cells,
Pulsing in an eagle as it soars,
Sliding in a sun-warmed draft that swells
Into a thunderhead that breaks and pours
The rain that will return to ocean wells.
Microorganisms slowly blaze
Within a carcass, charring it to ash.
Each atom in the universe obeys;
Its system whirls, impelled by cosmic lash
Of Light, in Light, to Light in perfect praise.
Both more and less than dust, man spends his might
In maverick zigzags through his jumbled space,
Imploding to a hole that sucks in night—
Unless he fuses with igniting grace,
Becoming as a sun and heir of Light.

Quietly, on Snowy Bank

Second Place
The grander view they saw
from wagons winding west
across the plains,
was more than glacier streaks
into the sun,
hawk rising in a silver sky.
It pulled a mother,
kneeling in the snow,
to feet long numb, but
tramping steady rhythm,
leaving tiny graves behind.
Faith welling up like clouds
of steam above the snow,
she clutches her bright wrap,
discordant gold against the gray.
Wind-feathered, clinging thinly
to her bones, the drape is but
a frail response to winter’s icy breath.
And then, a sudden gust sweeps
through the shawl,
spreads sail and fills, lifting
cloth from her heart.
Like monarch wings, wet and new,
she glistens.
Gossamer, yet strong.

For Rachel

Third Place
“Would you like a boy or girl?” and I reply
All blushing, body blooming like a rose,
“It doesn’t matter much to me; all I
Want is ten fingers and ten fine strong toes,
A healthy baby with a lusty cry.”
Such strange conditions, idly placed upon
Our love for children borne beneath our hearts.
As if we would not love a little one
That’s formed awry, confusion in its parts,
Or treasure legs we know will never run.
Can you not stay, my baby? We’ll repair
Your damaged body, if you will but live.
I fold myself in faith, hide from despair.
Remain awhile—we have so much to give
Each other, so much joy to share.
I mourn each problem but do not forget
The spirit held here by your mortal clay.
I know that all will be restored, and yet
Beg for this sooner—can’t it be today?—
And weep for hopes all shattered, dreams unmet.
You’re such a welcome burden, so I cry
To our shared Father, He who understands
And cares for me and loves you more than I
Know how. Your fragile life rests in his hands.
And I? I’ll rear you now … or by and by.

[illustration] Painting by Robert Powell