A poem for my brothers and sisters

Last night I dreamed I stood

at the edge of the parade route,

my friend Claire at my side,

a shade over our heads,

a ridge of red sandstone mountains against the far horizon.


Then they came in the noonday sun

Our people, so fierce, so tender, so terrible

The men carrying books translated out of air, out of hats, out of hunger,

Eyes straight ahead, unafraid of looking foolish to the world

if it meant they could beat down death.


The women too

Pioneer skirts across the backs of horses

Long guns at their sides

Priestesses they were

Tall, soft spoken, square shouldered

Priestesses of a kind this world has never seen


I tried to tell Claire how proud I was to see them

From the time I was a kid

The way my heart would throw itself against my bones saying

True, true, true

Or was it feeling, feeling, feeling?


I watched it all pass in front of me, trying to find the words,

and just before I woke the words came:

It is worthy of being loved;

It is worthy of being grieved.


The only reason I write is because the words come

The only reason they come is for you

The words came in my dream last night to tell you


That all that we have given to it:

Our dead relatives and our living;

Our black mornings bent over scriptures

mapping a world that never existed;

The homely white clothing we stepped into

to make promises, with words, with hands, with bodies;

How hard we worked to keep them;

How we punished ourselves when we could not.

The hours, the hours, the hours—

How do you begin to count them?


All of it, the grandeur and the failure,

Yours and mine, and that of our people:

It is worthy of being loved

It is worthy of being grieved

You are worthy of being loved

You are worthy of being grieved

You are worthy.


February 7, 2015


Filed under social connectedness

29 responses to “A poem for my brothers and sisters

  1. Val

    Beautiful poem. The grieving part is where I am right now. It moved me deeply. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Ted Olsen

    Beautiful poem. Please post more poetry.

  3. Jo

    I love your honesty. It is soooo rare. And valuable. –“til we have faces”

  4. LisaJ

    Thank you Joanna. So raw, so truthful. These words managed to move my stoney heart. My heart hasn’t always been hard but to survive the last year it has. Grief is still very much present.

  5. Lisa Moore

    Joanna! I think this is the first poem of yours that I’ve read. Lovely and stirring. I hope you write more. You’ve always been an excellent dreamer.

  6. OldFriend

    Thank you so much for this.

    We are worthy.

  7. Very, very beautiful, dear Joanna. And you are as loved as you are loving. Thanks for being. And for dreaming. And for doing.

  8. Rachel Hamrick

    I cried.

  9. Maurina Brown

    Beautiful poem! Completely insightful and impactful. Thank you very much.

  10. Dan Wotherspoon

    Incredible, beautiful friend with heart and talent as wide as eternity. Thank you.

  11. This is so beautiful. Thank you for writing. Thank you for sharing.

  12. emilyw

    “Beauty Beauty Beauty” is clanking in my heart right now. Thank you.

  13. Dani

    Read on a Sunday. A sleepy Sunday, spent in the sanctuary, the safety of home. Thank you for sharing this. For helping soothe my troubled soul.

  14. Thank you for this. To me, it speaks to that deepest fear that many of us have faced: “You mean if it’s not true, then my whole life was a waste?” Not a waste. The church matters not because it is true, but because it is human. And we matter, we are beautiful, not because we are perfect, but because we are human, too.

  15. Rich Kendell

    A lovely poem. Worthy to be read and savored and re-read. Rich and Joan Kendell

  16. Emily

    Thank you Joanna, YES.

  17. Sister Snow

    “Our black mornings bent over scriptures
    mapping a world that never existed”

    My exegetical skills are a bit rusty. Would you mind explaining what exactly this means?

    • This answers the question, “True, true, true
      Or was it feeling, feeling, feeling?”
      The world never existed.
      Church was not true.
      Just a feeling,
      but yet still

    • Peggy

      Sister Snow, this meant for me going to Seminary – getting up at 4, to be ready for my ride at 5, so we could begin seminary at 530, to be at high school at 7 am. Every morning. Studying scriptures, doing mapping projects, studying linguistics of dead languages in our case, as our instructor was a linguist.

      • Dead
        once existed.
        The BOM is about
        “a world that never existed,”
        and did not merit any lost sleep.
        Scriptures from the same cold fabulist
        silenced Emma and wasted many mornings,
        mornings multiplied by millions of trusting souls.

        “The hours, the hours, the hours—
        How do you begin to count them?”

  18. Sylvia Allen

    WOW! Thank you!

  19. BrianK

    Wow, Joanna. That is how I feel, too, quite often. That was beautiful and powerful.

  20. Dan Jordan

    Wow, does this mean you’ll be coming out now? There is a community of ex-Mormons who can help you make the transition. It’s very difficult when you first come to the realization that it isn’t true.

  21. Rude Dog

    I appreciate your beautiful words Joanna. But you are still too on the sideline. When does it ever come to you to be courageous? Your standing, your influence. Yet you stand in the shadows, offering a sanguine tune the night before the battle, sleeping in during the headlong march of barley soldiers. Waking, yawning, eating well while bellies are hungry.

  22. Suzanne

    Thank you for these tender, honest, … just exquisite words. I found myself mourning along with you. For, I too have ached, as I’ve watched Joseph step down from the pedestal of Mormon folklore. Yet, I also mourn the possibility that all these “black mornings bent over scripture” … never availed the author of an encounter with God that eclipses Joseph’s fall. Joseph didn’t write the New or Old Testaments. Yet, it’s as though his fall from grace, somehow gives him more power to shatter than God Himself has to heal and restore. Perhaps this is judgmental to say. And, truly. Shame on me if so. But, I would encourage anyone reading this to remember one thing Joseph said. “Seek ye this Jesus, of whom the prophets have spoken”. It is significant to me that he does not say, “Seek ye this Joseph …” I have done the former. And I so testify that “this Jesus”, His friendship, His tenderness, His mercy & His grace eclipse Joseph’s failings. And, seeking Him can bring you to an understanding of just how intimate and central and conversant a God, a Savior, and A Friend Jesus Christ is to those who seek Him. Hope in Joseph’s moral superiority never has or will supply anyone with power to overcome life. But, hope in Jesus Christ—born of His friendship, His mercy & His grace is worth every effort you make. Of this, I so testify. Amen.

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