For Valerie
I will walk slowly for awhile,
Although I wish for quicker stride.
My spirit wants to dance and run;
My body holds that hope inside.
But as I linger down the path,
Perhaps it’s only I who sees
The subtle-colored flowers
And sunlight-filtered trees.
I will be gentle for awhile;
It seems my heart grows larger now.
And people never understood
Are loved as only pain shows how.
As mercy grows and judgement ends,
My heart is learning to receive.
I’m finding strength to look inside
And feel that gentleness for me.
I will be silent for awhile,
In case the angels find me home.
I heard that in Gethsemane
They didn’t leave the Lord alone.
For though my suffering pales to His,
I know our Father is the same.
So I will wait for them to come,
As I walk slowly with my pain.

I Didn’t Know you Slept Below

I didn’t know you slept below.

We came to visit like the rest,

Where headstones tell the history

Of those who didn’t make it west.

I said the stories; tried to tell

The little boys who climbed the stone

Of “blessed, honored pioneers,”

Not knowing I spoke of our own.

Did you listen from above,

Truly glad we finally came?

As I spewed history to my sons,

Did you listen for your name?

But we just threw a blanket down,

Played with the kids and had a snack.

We snapped a picture by your grave,

Your name emblazoned on the plaque,

Then drove away.  You stayed behind-

Your life given for my own.

Please forgive my tourist heart-

I didn’t know you slept below.

I wrote this poem after discovering that my ancestor died at Winter Quarters, Nebraska during the mass migration across the United States and was buried in a mass grave. A well-known sculpture now marks the burial site. I visited the site years ago with my husband and two sons, before I knew about my family history. I had no idea he slept below.

The statue that marks the mass grave where three of my ancestors are buried.