1992 Eliza R. Snow Poetry/Verse Contest Winners

By Jean Seifert


Master of the Light

I praise thee when
Each pastel stroke of sunrise
Seems for me,
And every lustrous breeze
Ignites my soul
With glowing testament of thee.
But when my shoulders—
Burdened, bent to dust—
Refuse to lift,
Forget to trust,
I glory, Master
Artist of the Light,
That I can also find thee
In the night.

Portrait of Mosiah 18

Another morning moved upon the
waters, lifting a veil of silver
flame while many awakened and
heard Alma’s words, gathered to that
place of quiet-spreading trees;
They believed when he taught—perhaps in
rooms kept to candlelight;
now on this shore turned
afternoon, he voices their
desire, witnessed through breathless
burial breaking over to sky,
sun, a Redeemer’s grace.
And they come filled, called after
His name—this being
done before evening passed the
wilderness beyond small stars.

On the Blessing of the Bread

Called to redemption,
Israel wandered empty wastes,
Yet ate hoar manna:
Heaven’s harvest in a fruitless land.
At Christ’s feet,
Five thousand sat with empty hands,
Yet from five loaves
Were fed and filled.
He who made not devil’s stones bread,
Yet fed his hungry people.
And still he does.
For we, too, walk in wastelands,
And we wait before his table
With empty hands
To eat the bread of life:
God’s gift in famine’s day,
And supper to our souls.

To Eve—with Empathy across the Years

You laid the garment aside
And stood to rest stiff shoulders—
How pleased Abel would be
At touch of the soft, supple leather.
From the door you could see the fields,
Quiet in midday sun.
The harvest had been good
And the flocks were fat.
Bent to your task again
You were not aware of the darkening sky
Or the dust-covered runner approaching
Until Adam, with ashen face, stood beside you.
Sharp as the sickle through ripe grain
Were his words …
You would not remember
Running through dry stubble,
Or his strong arms beneath yours;
But you would not forget pain
That tore heart and soul.
Gone—two sons of promise—
One never to see tomorrow’s dawn,
Never to father generations.
The other wrenched from you,
Marked and cast out.
There would be other dawns—and other harvests—
With long hours of toil to fill empty days.
Then slowly, surely, as pain gives way to faith,
You feel God’s love surround you,
Warm as a shawl on your shoulders,
And you hear His spirit whisper to your spirit
That sometime—somewhere in eternity—
A mother’s heart will heal.

Triptych

The Guilty
Where is the mountain high enough
The ocean deep enough
The desert wide enough
To hide my sin?
Death will not suffice—
I cannot be
Unmade.
Burning torment
Anguish of soul
My God, my God
I hide my face.
The Penitent
Lord
Have mercy
On me, a sinner
Forgive, I pray
Take my sin away
I cannot bear it longer.
I would be thine.
Receive my broken heart, I beseech thee,
And give me rest.
The Forgiven
Burning with Light
My soul quivers
At thy touch.
Oh God, my God
God of my fathers
Wonderful, Counsellor,
Prince of Peace.
There is no mountain high enough
Nor ocean deep enough
Nor desert wide enough
To glorify thy name.

[illustration] Summer Afternoon, by John Hafen; courtesy of the Museum of Church History and Art