Miracle of the Gulls
Singing, they blazed a highway to the West--
The Mormon pioneers. The desert sod
They conquered, even to the mountain's crest,
To build a great imperium to God.
"Come, come, ye Saints," they sang, "nor labor fear.
We seek the place where God would have us dwell.
Though hard to you this journey may appear,
With joy, gird up your loins, for all is well."
A reverent people asking but to be
Allowed, in peace, to worship Him they loved--
Their right within a kingdom of the free--
Were driven by the lash of slander; shoved
From their ancestral homes with rams of hate:
To coax the dormant life from desert sands;
To keep their shrine of faith inviolate;
Release an Eden in primeval land,
Where high above the ravens of despair
White wings of hope would bid them build their dream;
Where, clarion-clear, through elemental air
Tolerance would echo in the eagle's scream.
Day after day the covered wagons rolled
Across the startled prairies. Light hearts sang
With violins in gladness. Mourning told
Of graves beside the trail ... Yet ever rang
The carillons of truth. A retinue
Of angels listened to their muted song,
"And should we die before our journey's through,
All, all is well." Hearts quailed to hear the long-
Drawn howl of hungry wolves ... A prophet's death,
Mob violence, were left behind; ahead,
Cathedral mountains and the challenging breath
From desert-lungs. When their great leader said,
Viewing the valley-land, "This is the place!"
All eagerly they plowed and sowed and reaped;
Laid plans for Templed cities. The embrace
Of toil was sweet, and life in earth's womb leaped
To greening beauty: Thirsty acres drank
From cool canals and "blossomed as the rose."
Then came black wings of doom, and laughter sank
In depths of horror: Hordes of cricket-foes
Came swarming from the mountains till the sun
Was veiled in darkness by them flying, creeping.
And field on field was barrened, overrun
By the marauders. Wives and mothers, weeping,
Fathers and children fought with fire and flail
Unceasingly, while sending fervent prayer,
Pleading for Heaven to save. To no avail
They toiled, then waited: On expectant air,
There came the ominous sound of rushing wind--
Great whirring wings alighted like a cloud.
The gaunt, worn pioneers, grief-disciplined,
Saw death descending swiftly in a shroud:
Rising from waters of the lake came gulls,
Great white-winged birds that brought but added fears.
Could nothing save now but God's miracles?
The cup of joy became a cup of tears.
Then, "All is well!" rang out the victory cry,
"God has delivered us! The crops are saved!
Great joyful wings!" Their paeans reached the sky--
"Praise God for mercy prodigally laved!"
The gulls would gorge, cast up, then gorge again.
Exhausted toilers stood in awe to see
The feasting birds eject the crickets, then
Refill their craws ... Their dark Gethsemane
As strong men knelt
And wept like children, with new tenderness,
Mothers held babies to their breasts, and felt
Anointing hands of angels in caress.
Within God's shadow, weary hearts (grown old)
Leaped with the pulse of April. Pioneers,
Young as tomorrow, in a rescued wold
Sang, "All is well! Dispersed are all our fears.
Why should we mourn or think our lot is hard?"
For God's sure fingers held His world in place.
Their hearts retuned unto love's harpsichord,
They joyed within the peace of His embrace.
Today, beside a timeless monument--
Great silent wings--their children's children tell
The sacred tale of how the gulls were sent,
And sing the stirring anthem, "All is well!"