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.