“Homecoming,” Ensign, July 1988, 65


    Third Place

    Perhaps he then returned

    At thirty-one or -two,

    His tall frame stopping sunlight at the door,

    Familiar shadow on familiar wall.

    But she’d have sensed him there

    Before she saw

    And, thanking God,

    Abandoned wheel or loom or bowl

    To fling herself into his arms,

    Then hold him back,

    At arms’ length,

    To satisfy her soul.

    And she’d have seen

    The whole, and more:

    Sandals layered thick

    With dust of untold steps,

    Unknown towns;

    Shoulders stooped a bit,



    with short-cropped nails

    And craftsman’s square utility,

    Unmarked (what had the dream been, then?)

    Except for memory

    Of plane and saw

    Or childhood scrape;

    And eyes of weary wisdom,

    Warm compassion,

    Past and future pain,

    Of present love.

    I think she could not look for long.

    Then she’d have offered food

    and calm concern,

    And gently probed the aching months apart,

    His health, his heart—

    Savoring, hoarding every brief response

    Against the future drought

    Her love was powerless to stay.

    And he’d have left with lighter step

    And backward smile,

    As she stood

    In that empty place,

    Her last gift given,

    Her shoulders

    Stooped a bit,