by William Dickgraber
for daughter Mary, Christmas 1986
(Second narative poem in book THE STREAM)
The snows sifted and drifted
all night and all day.
The school bus followed the plow
That evening on her bed Beth prayed
"Dear Lord if someone is lost
help him to find his way."
Outside the blizzard buffed
and raged - snow devils played.
Inside the stove crackled with warmth.
Once upon a winter morning
one of those Montana below zero mornings
with drifts to the frosted windows,
the sky clear blue stretching
over landscapes dazzling bright
our young girl
was met at the woodpile by a dog,
a german shepherd of eight years,
black, with a touch of russet tan.
And that afternoon while Beth was at school
the shepherd delivered a single pup
on the throw rug beside the kitchen stove.
That night after tucking them in
"Dear Lord thank you for bringing
them safely to us,
our 'Dear Heart' and little 'Sassy'."
She had already named them.
Yes, she would care for those God sent.
But by dawn "Sassy" was gone.
Pappa said, "Life has its ways."
That the mother was old
the blizzard too cold.
"Dear Lord I don't understand"
the pillow wet with tears,
her Mandy doll beside her.
On thursday a couple came
to claim their shepherd.
Now even her "Dear Heart" was gone away.
That night with the pale light on the
stream all frozen in the canyon,
a Christian mother talked to her daughter,
read the Psalms,
then both talked to their Father.
"Dear Lord sometimes we don't understand
but we know we can trust you."
The hearth in their home warmed them.
Outside under the stars
a battle grim.
Five coyotes tore a yearling's mother
away from him - there in
the drifts and sage brush.
[There is within the poem a natural division right here]
These were the times of winter night
Times of blizzard cold
Times of purging.
Then came a chinook wind
breathing hope - warming the land.
Snow dropped all night from the trees
But right behind it another storm
crusting the melting snow.
While Beth read her books,
put together puzzles and played games
the land about them was locked together
in a deathly game.
Just below them the slope became
a last stand for starving deer.
Coyotes took one down each night
for a week.
Durring the darkness of the seventh night
Beth awoke to snarls near the house
and finally heard them kill a forked-horn
down by the cottonwood - past the spring.
"Dear Lord, I don't understand"
She prayed - from her protected world
making her way to her parent's room.
"Oh Mama, Mama, whats going on
A Christian mother wiped her daughter's tears
soothed away the fears.
They snuggled there and slept, them and Mandy.
Yes, and Once upon a winter morning
One of those below-zero Montana mornings
Our young girl was met near the
woodpile by three muledeer does
too afraid to fear her,
"Papa, Papa, do something!" and he did.
Followed the snowplow and school bus to town.
Purchased several bales of hay and
drove back to their home above the stream.
Their home became a haven
of food and rest.
Oh yes, she'd "care for those God sent."
She'd watch them feed - water at the spring.
And the distant piping of the coyote
became to her a dirge,
their moans of death.
"Dear Lord protect the world from coyotes."
As she gazed to the frozen stream
the moon upon the ice.
As she gazed past strange
frost patterned worlds on the window
into a life so different
from that she had found last September
on their picnic there below.
"Dear Lord I don't understand."
[This is another natural division in the poem]
Once upon a time
the season finally changed,
Once upon a happy time.
The crocuses bloomed
there where the deer once struggled,
and water ran down every ravine.
And the spring swelled down to the stream
which swelled its banks onward as far
as Beth could see winding
through the breaks to the
"Oh Dear Lord" she prayed,
"I love the flowers on the hill
and the new leaves on the trees
and the pussywillow blooms
and the green grass."
Soft Breeze swept up from
Meadow to tuck her in.
And there were robins now.
All the deer had gone
but they'de return again next January
to their winter home.
Then came a phone call
and that week a shepherd puppy.
No, the couple hadn't forgotten.
Ah, but thats not all.
Someone hit a coyote on the road
and two days later
our young girl was met at the spring
by a coyote pup.
Papa found the den
there were three of them, orphaned.
"Oh Father in Heaven
I don't understand -
But oh please continue to use me"
tucking her Mandy doll in beside her.
Once upon a warm spring morning,
One of those Montana mountain covered
with wildflower mornings,
Our young girl nursed her youngsters
One by one from a baby bottle.
Those God had sent her.
The following is the introductory letter to Mary also included with the poem.
The successful Christian life is one of surrender. Our wisdom to His Word. Our dreams to His assignments.
To do this our hearts must be rooted in Calvary love. Our attitude towards all in life must begin and be steeped in that undeserved grace, mercy, compassion of Calvary love.
As we see our emptyness and His fulness, our sinfulness and His holiness and mercy, our helplessness and His strength and all sufficiency.
As we rest in Christ, robed in His righteousness, revelling in His adoption and royalty - at His bleeding feet - we will find that trust and faith ours. We will obey and walk with Him as ambassadors of love. This is success.
Love Dad/Christmas 86