Poem: House of the Crossing


In the Come Follow Me curriculum for January 27, 2019, we are reading and studying the first chapter of the Gospel of John. In John 1:19-34, we read that John was baptizing at “Bethabara beyond Jordan,” and that Jesus came to John to be baptized there (see 1 Nephi 10:7-10). Bethabara means “place of fording,” literally “house of the crossing,” and is considered to be a ford of the Jordan River near Jericho. Traditionally, this place on the Jordanian side of the river, now called Wadi Al-Kharrar, is reputed to be the place at which Joshua led the Israelites into the Promised Land when the waters of the Jordan were miraculously stopped so they could cross (see Joshua 3:13-17; 4:1-9, 21-24). The following poem explores the relationship between these two events—the baptism of Jesus and the crossing of the Israelites into the Promised Land—in the form of a chiasm,* with the central thought being “We cross from death to life through faith in Christ.”

House of the Crossing (a chiasm)

Joshua pointed out the Promised Land
across the Jordan. They must take the step
to stop the flood and cross the riverbed
dry-shod. No vengeful Egypt drove them now,
as when the Red Sea showed escape from death
or bondage. In this quiet, peaceful spring,
Israel stepped between the Jordan’s floods,
cast off the wilderness and were reborn
into the ancient covenants with God.

And still the water flows o’er Joshua’s stones:
Remember, Israel, the covenant birth,
that crossing Jordan conquers death for life—
We cross from death to life through faith in Christ,
as He upon the Cross conquered through death
what Bethabara’s covenant birth began.

And still we take the water and the bread,
remembering our covenants with God;
we cast off sin and death to be reborn,
drowned, drenched, and streaming hope and gratitude.
In quiet peace He breaks the bonds of sin
and death and gives the gift of our escape,
His hand outstretched in love to carry us
and all our burdens through the trials and pain,
if we but take the step, take up the Cross,
as Jesus points to our eternal home.

Lisa Bolin Hawkins

*A chiasm, or chiasmus, is a Hebrew literary form where the writer’s original thoughts are echoed in a reverse sequence, usually around a central, essential point. It is frequently found in the Old Testament and in the Book of Mormon. See John W. Welch, “Chiasmus in the Book of Mormon,” New Era, February 1972, https://www.lds.org/new-era/1972/02/chiasmus-in-the-book-of-mormon?lang=eng&_r=1

Poem: Eurydice

antigone by frederick lord leighton

“Antigone,” by Frederick, Lord Leighton

I wrote this poem after reading Jean Anouilh’s play Antigone for a French class in about 1995, although this poem, like Anouilh’s play, draws from the original tragedy by Sophocles and in my mind, a little of Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities, the French Revolution, and the Holocaust. Anouilh’s play was first produced in Paris during the Nazi occupation, and is widely understood to parallel the French Resistance during that time. I like the way tricot (knitting in French) sounds like the knitting needles clicking. Eurydice was the mute wife of Creon and aunt to Antigone, who performs funeral rites for her brother, Polynieces, when Creon has forbidden that as a way to dishonor Polynieces. Eteocles is Polynieces’ brother; Haemon is Eurydice’s son and Antigone’s fiance. It’s a tragedy, so everyone dies, and Eurydice is left to knit and mourn.


Her brief yet Sophoclean voice now dumb,
she knits (tricot, tricot) recording all,
The needles flash and clack; one pulls at one
(tricot, tricot) and then they turn:
There, in the space of templed needles,
Fate stares out, smiles or frowns (tricot),
and weaves out Death.

All Death. Madame DuFarge, recording all,
not silent, but the clack of needles drowned
by drums and tumbrels, pleas for mercy, prayers,
the slide and thump of metal slicing through
to wood, and then a cheer, and then the drums;
(tricot) the women watch and knit the Fates.

Eurydice, with Fate, sees Death’s parade,
The jackboots on the cobblestones, the harsh
accent of Nazis speaking le français.
Perhaps she went from safety just to see
the flock of yellow stars caged at Drancy.
(tricot, tricot) their tumbrels are boxcars
Then Auschwitz, worse than Hades. “God!” they cry.

“Gods!” She hears the cry and knits it in,
(tricot, tricot) and when she hears the news:
Antigone has gone to join them now—
Eteocles, the hero, hailed by all,
Polynieces, the rebel, left to rot,
Her own Haemon, her son, taking Death’s pact
To die with her uncompromising niece—
Antigone is dead! (tricot) Is dead!
Eurydice must pause (and no one sees):
She sighs, lets fall a tear, and

drops   a   stitch.

by Lisa Bolin Hawkins

Poem: Sacred Home

I look forward to experiencing the changes in the temple ceremony that have been written about in the Salt Lake Tribune this week. In honor of that, I share this poem, written in 2011, about the temple experience. provo-city-center-temple-1572517-wallpaper

Sacred Home

Through the lace I touch soft evidence
of deeper meaning, like the veiled face
of a bride who sees life end and yet begin
and yet continue, called to follow
in the steps of all the brides who ever
promised. We are all brides, male or female,
old, young, layered with water, oil,
robed in carefully marked clothing,
all invited to the wedding
if we trust, submit, and enter
into death that raises us to life: eternal.

All adorned with covenant bows,
like knots of willing hands in clasp
that won’t be broken, tying together
hearts, minds, souls, and strengths.
We feel the sheer white curtains billow
in the breeze of whispered sacraments.
Our spirits hear; our lips give answer: truth.

As my hand rests on the altar,
on the lace-clothed stretch of velvet
where our hands hold to each other
as our eyes each hold the other,
seeing, as in endless mirrors,
end, beginning, all-encompassed
by our story; by the sacred word: forever.

by Lisa Bolin Hawkins