For Emma

    “For Emma,” Ensign, Sept. 1993, 56

    For Emma

    Mississippi ice.

    The flux of her cumbersome skirt

    corrugated in the grip of her children:

    Joseph to one side,

    Julia on the other.

    Her arms midnight aching

    from the weight of two more babes,

    Frederick and Alexander hung in embrace.

    Heavy bags of the Prophet’s papers

    bound to her waist.

    Her mind behind with him

    shut in prison.

    Home, cold-impacted Missouri,

    left hollow by her flight

    across the river’s frozen slate.

    The careful tramp of her feet

    scuffing the ice,

    her name aching in my throat

    every time it’s heard.