This is the first poem I remember reading in The Ensign and liking. It also appears to have been part of the last set of poems for the last year of the Eliza R. Snow contest, which ran during the 1970s and ’80s and ended in 1992. I read this poem as part of a sacrament meeting talk a few years ago.
It’s not the best poem. It contains no amazing images or turns of phrases. It’s structure is simple and rather loose. It ends a bit tritely. And yet even as corny as that ending couplet is, I find it comforting in its patience and surety. And the poem served me well when I was struggling to write a talk on women and sorrow.
To Eve–with Empathy across the Years
By Shirley Adwena Harvey
You laid the garment aside
And stood to rest stiff shoulders–
How pleased Abel would be
At touch of the soft, supple leather.
From the door you could see the fields,
Quiet in midday sun.
The harvest had been good
And the flocks were fat.
Bent to your task again
You were not aware of the darkening sky
Or the dust-covered runner approaching
Until Adam, with ashen face, stood beside you.
Sharp as the sickle through ripe grain
Were his words “¦
You would not remember
Running through dry stubble,
Or his strong arms beneath yours;
But you would not forget pain
That tore heart and soul.
Gone–two sons of promise–
One never to see tomorrow’s dawn,
Never to father generations.
The other wrenched from you,
Marked and cast out.
There would be other dawns–and other harvests–
With long hours of toil to fill empty days.
Then slowly, surely, as pain gives way to faith,
You feel God’s love surround you,
Warm as a shawl on your shoulders,
And you hear His spirit whisper to your spirit
That sometime–somewhere in eternity–
A mother’s heart will heal.