“Legacy,” Ensign, Mar. 1978, 45


    First Place Eliza R. Snow Poetry Contest

    If heritage is Nauvoo-cradled kin,

    Handcarted hopes, or crickets in your grain,

    Born-in-the-covenant splendor shimmering down

    Grandsires to sire in awesome golden chain,

    Great-great-aunts’ faith that helped the Church begin,

    Then we bequeath but bareness, child, for we’ve

    No relatives in Utah, heirloom quilts,

    Cousins who camped with Brigham ’cross the plains,

    Long scripless missions, temples Grandpa built,

    No cherished Saints to crown our family tree.

    For us, my daughter, “Mormon” starts with me

    And Daddy—knees new-trained in pleading prayer—

    Lord-led through aching, questing toward belief;

    Forsaking well-worn rituals to dare

    Be pioneers for all our pedigree.

    Not Far West mud, but Friesland’s crisp, diked farms

    Great-Grandma knew (yet sacrificed as they):

    Years late to share the dawn of Zion’s day.

    No mob’s hot hate her mother’s family harmed.

    Yet three brief months, at thirty-two, pierced heart

    Soul-deep as any member-sister’s plight,

    As babes, then spouse, slipped swiftly into death.

    Our gentile heroes—hidden from the light—

    Were chained, perchance, from taking mortal part.

    But we’ve still roots in glory where it began;

    We too have Joseph, young and testing James;

    Nephi and Enoch and the temple’s peace;

    Flint-sparks of Deity in our tinder-frames;

    Sweet testimony’s treasure; priesthood’s plan

    To comfort, heal, exalt; a prophet’s word.

    I savor this—our legacy—and long

    To reach each waiting someone, branching back,

    And pluck them in, rich, ripe to harvest song

    Of keys restored—bright truths they never heard.

    Descendant, yes, but mother, too, in this—

    I bear salvation’s embryo within,

    As Eve, to all my line. Elijah-sent.

    Love’s labor—mine—brings forth the promised end

    To their imprisonment, and the edge of bliss.

    These gain, reversed, new heritage through me

    Who lead my forebears toward eternity.