“Carthage,” Ensign, June 1982, 51
When oak accepts a stain, it holds tenacious.
Smoke clears. Panic scatters blackened faces
like the butcher shrike explodes a sparrow
flock. The wounded man waits, hidden in narrow
silence: “I want you to live. Tell the world
how trust was slain by treachery.” Outside,
reluctant cicadas resume their hum,
measuring the humid afternoon. Warm
echoes filter past the shattered door: “Bullets
shall fly like hail, your friends fall left and right.”
Far off, in deep woods, the lonely cuckoo
mourns for Carthage, for new widows in Nauvoo,
for innocent martyrdom, staining bright
the jailhouse floor. Oak never forgets.