Too Late on Father’s Day

“Too Late on Father’s Day,” Ensign, July 1977, 60

Too Late on Father’s Day

“And may our sleep be sweet this night.”

The ritual words, resonant, clear,

That ended every family prayer

Came as relief to us whose plight

You never seemed to feel. Your long

And earnest prayer stretched forth

Embracing everything of worth

And everyone: His mighty throng,

His tender care, his love, his birth,

His bounteous blessings, all our health

And strength, our heritage, our length

Of space and time on blessed earth,

Our onion patch, the dryfarm wheat,

President Grant, our loved ones all,

Leaders of nations, any who call

On him in pain or sorrow, the feet

Of missionaries that they be led

To doors of honest in heart, the poor

The sick and afflicted, all those sore

In heart or mind, even our dead.

Thus you’d solicit blessings from

An unseen power you’d never think

To doubt: you knew how deep we drink

From wells we can’t begin to plumb.

To us who knelt on hardwood floors

And felt the creep of time across

The grain that marked our knees, the loss

Of play on summer nights outdoors

Kept all but echoes of your words

Along the surface of our minds.

We felt few doubts about the kinds

Of beings and powers up there where birds

Could soar and sing, beyond our reach,

Their bright evangels to our God;

You’d taught us much about the word,

His rod, to let us know he’d teach

Us more. Content with that we’d keep

A restless sense of all that flow

Of words we knew, like us, must go

At last and finally down to sleep.

And sleep we did. Our work and play

Would help your invocation hold

—But benediction too: You’d fold

Us in your love: How could we stray?

Yes, we squirmed enough and more.

But found your prayer fulfilled in us

As now we find your life is just

Fulfilled in death. And now the store

Of fruit you brought, as mellow too

As you’d become, will save us from

The grief we can’t but feel. You’ve come

To rest—the only kind you’d know.

As now you move through dark to light:

We softly sing you on your way—

You’d never stop, even with your day,

But may your sleep be sweet this night.