Tabernacles to Temples

· 2009 Poetry Contest First Place ·

January 31, 2011

July 26, 2007
Provo Temple, Utah

“In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.”
Ephesians 2:22 

These animal skin coverings feel soaked from floating
in sorrow’s brine, and we groan
under their weight, groan
towing tent and tackle up the foothills
toward the Mountaintop.

A week we’ve staggered, and barely,
so that today we would bring our broken tabernacle selves to the temple
arms pressed to chest against the centrifugal cyclone
arms wrapped tightly around the sacrifice we carry:
shredded heart, splintered spirit.
We’ve walked as pulled, pulled as by some
magnetic imperative to this
the axis
the centering place.

An altar awaits us here
where under the cover of His cloud we lean into our witness
and empty these, our elemental tents excavated
of stone,
all earth dust.
Heads brought low, we draw open our fine white linen robes to spill
oaths, hearts, viscera, tears (spirit blood)
over the offering table.
These tents must be carved out, burned bare to cinder,
Hollowed for the hallowing.

Collapsible tabernacles rise from their ash-coated knees
rise riding the surge which carries to the inner lining
draped round the place overlaid with gold
which gold endowment pours over and into us,
until we are newly soaked, floating,
buoyant in His glory.

Here, we are aware: the spinning has stopped.
The cyclone seems moved outside.
And now the singular exhilarating dis-covering:
we are centered
entered into by His Spirit
and by his spirit
which inhabits,
lifts onto tip-toes,
ignites within crater eyes brilliant blue flames of youth.
In this Mount, transfiguration:
From tabernacles, temples.

A week to the hour from the drowning incident that cost the life of Parker, Melissa’s eldest, she and her husband Randall gathered with family and friends in the Provo temple. There, Randall served as proxy for his own eighteen-year-old son in an endowment session described in this poem.

January 31, 2011
January 31, 2011

Melissa Dalton-Bradford

(Poetry Board) Melissa Dalton-Bradford resides near Geneva, Switzerland with her husband, Randall, and Dalton and Luc, the two youngest of their four children. (Their daughter, Claire, has just returned from serving a full-time LDS mission in southern Italy. Melissa served a full-time mission in Austria.) Geneva is the eighth international address Melissa and her family call home, having resided in Vienna, Hong Kong, Oslo, Versailles, Paris, Munich and Singapore. At the time of this printing, she and her family are moving to Frankfurt, Germany. Alongside having performed professionally as a soprano soloist in the US, Europe, and South East Asia, Melissa earned a BA in German and an MA in comparative literature (BYU), and taught German, humanities, English and writing at the university level. She is an award-winning poet and essayist, and is an active public speaker on living internationally, family, loss and grief, spirituality and women’s issues. Most recently, she has published her first book, Global Mom: A Memoir, and her next book, Loss & Living Onward: Collected Voices for the Grieving and Those Who Would Mourn with Them will be released in May of 2014. That volume is a substantial work on loss, grief and the power in communal mourning, and is a tribute to her firstborn, Parker, whose untimely and tragic passing at the age of eighteen redefined her life. Her most consuming passion is the gospel of Jesus Christ, and her family is, by far, her most satisfying creation.