This poem is dedicated to Hannah Overton, and to all women who have suffered forcible separation from their children.
She held the baby for the final time.
No time was long enough, no word could say
What must be said. The heedless moments passed:
Too callously the hour crossed a line;
The guards came up, she rose and went at last.
But how she held the child—in such a way
Young Moses’ mother may have held him once,
Before the basket on the heartless Nile.
So Hannah with her only Samuel
Beside the brazen altar of the Lord;
So Rachel may have clasped her little ones
A thousand times from Herod’s fateful sword.
And so we hold ourselves, up to the last
When we must yield us captive to the will
Of Him who gives and who will take away.
To some the hour comes soon. To all it comes
Inexorably and without a truce:
Look on the grieving mother, and there learn
What it must mean to kneel and ask for grace,
To gather up one’s soul and give one’s all.