Weekend Poetry: At Mountain Meadows

I turned to Harvest: Contemporary Mormon Poems for this edition of Weekend Poetry in hopes of finding a poem that both spoke to me and was available online. To my surprise, here’s what I ended up selecting:

At Mountain Meadows
for Juanita Brooks

(by R. A. Christmas, Dialogue 4.3, reprinted in both Harvest and A Believing People)

You’ll have to click through to the link above to read it — it was originally published in Dialogue. But here are two phrases that grabbed me from it:

“who cannot stay to sift for those / ungathered pieces of the dead” and “…and the Earth / burns to a glass in which we see / ourselves as we are seen”

I say to my surprise because I wasn’t intending to “go there.” The Mountain Meadows Massacre is a complex topic. And I’m not sure exactly how I feel about this poem as a) a work of aesthetics b) a work of Mormon literature c) a work of ideological attitude and d) a response to Mountain Meadows.

I’m curious about what others think. However, please not to keep things focused on culture and aesthetics. AMV is not the place to discuss history, politics, sociology, etc. Obviously each of those disciplines can inform how one responds to a work of art and especially one that in and of itself refers to all that messiness (it’s dedicated to Juanita Brooks fer crying out loud). But there are a hundred other places to get in to the socio-religio-poli-historical aspects of MMM.

9 thoughts on “Weekend Poetry: At Mountain Meadows”

  1. .

    Well, that was her other big nonfiction project that I know about. She wrote one of the great Mountain Meadows histories and she edited Hosea Stout’s diaries.

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