“Lone Woman: Charity (Arms) Everts,” Ensign, Mar. 1984, 56–57
She must have been whip-thin to make that trek
Across the continent, her body taut
As wet rawhide, her courage ramrod stiff.
How else to leave those little graves behind,
Six of the ten she bore, one slashed to death
By peccaries, in shallow slits of earth,
That one long gash beneath a spreading oak
From one black, fatal day in Illinois
Before they reached Nauvoo to join the Saints.
The solemn workmen brought her Joshua,
Her life, her love, the husband half of her,
His body shattered by a falling tree,
To live but briefly, dying in her arms.
Through ashen, urgent lips he begged her go.
“Go with the Saints. Let nothing interfere.
To Zion, to The Kingdom—for our sakes.”
Alone, with little children, yet alone,
No man to lift the heavy oxen yoke,
To grease a squeaking wheel, to take her turn
Night-herding animals, to shift the load
Of heavy boxes in the wagon bed—
To take command, to comfort her in grief
When children slipped from life. To dig their graves.
Some things I know of her, her gentle birth
Of stern New England stock, no foe to work,
For she could wash and card and spin a fleece
And weave it into cloth. She knew the dyes
Of walnut, madder root and indigo.
Her even stitch became her livelihood.
I hope her feet were cased in cowhide boots,
Her body wrapped against the elements
For I am hers three mothers down. I yearn
To see her face and listen to her words.
She made of tragedy a martyr’s gift
To God, and blessings of adversity.
But more than all of these her spirit soared
Above the mud of Iowa, the endless plain,
The rivers she must ford, the mountain heights.
The clumsy, ox-drawn wagon, lit by faith
Became for her a chariot of fire.