Hope Chest

An empty box stands lidless by the door,

with pencil marks in arabesques and swirls

crossing its face--a worthless chest of boards,

passed, unseen, by a group of giggling girls.

The carving master comes. The box he shifts

into a shaft of light. His fingers trace

the pattern on the rough-hewn boards. He lifts

the knife and hammer, starts to carve the face.

With stroke on stroke of pounding wooden maul,

through much endurance, patient days, months long,

the plaited arcs appear as shavings fall

from the shining blade in hands both sure and strong.

The half-carved chest is roughened, gouged and marred.

Busy tools plied make flying chips.

Exuding fragrance comes from chiseled stars

appearing, rough-carved, on the box's lips.

A Maltese cross is set in either end,

sacred emblems carved with border lace.

Future treasure will in this vault defend

their secrets, cherished behind a symboled face.

The work is done. The handsome hope chest stands

in all its wounded, riven splendor dressed.

The carver smiles, content, and dusts his hands--

forgotten chisel, hammer, pain, distress.

May I like this strong box, in tranquilness,

hoarding treasures, secrets, chiseled pain,

put on a shining face the knife's caress

only enhances--let His truth remain.

Oh Lord, forever chiseled may I be,

so long as the carving tool is held by Thee,

and may I hold rich treasures of Your grace,

with only a radiant smile upon my face.