A Matter of Bequeathal by Helen Mar Cook (1916-2015)

I have recently been introduced to the poetry of Helen Mar Cook.  Her son, David Cook, was our son, Aaron’s Mission President in Santiago, Chile.  Pres Cook has been sharing her poetry with me and with others and I have loved each piece.  Especially this one.

I share her heartfelt desire to leave myself behind–with words but also with a few quilts!

My friend troubles over the mixing bowl,
measuring salt, sugar, flour and yeast,
mixing, blending, then kneading the dough
to place under a damp cloth for rising.
She pummels, rolls and shapes
the perfect loaf, places it in the oven
to come out fragrant with taste and lightness.

I am a troubler over words. I measure
metaphor, mix, blend, knead and pummel
to shape a poem that I hope my dear ones
will taste and savour.

She stores her trunk with embroideries
while I go on threading the rainbow
with silk strands, stitching, unstitching.
sometimes dropping a stitch
to bring subtlety, meaning
into a line.

Her children will treasure her recipes,
and her patchworks will be handed down
through generations after she has gone.

My patchworks, my recipes will turn
into a shuffle of papers, phrases
that I measure into hoped-for meanings.
when nights grow cold. I wonder
will my crazy patchworks keep them warm.


Helen Mar Cook was the last surviving grandchild of Elder Orson F. Whitney, sometimes described as the Poet Laureate of Mormonism. She inherited her grandfather’s gift for the written word and became an accomplished and frequently published poet, receiving numerous awards in prose and poetry. She published four volumes of poetry. Her first book, Shape of Flight, was published in 1975 by the Utah State Poetry Society when she was named Poet of the Year. She was a well-known teacher and lecturer in poetry workshops and readings throughout the state of Utah. She was a member of the Utah State Poetry Society having served as President and in various official capacities. She served as president of The League of Utah Writers and the Utah Association of the National Pen Women and served on the National Letters Board. She also served as President of the Ben Lomond Poets, Blue Quill Writers, and on the Literary Arts Panel of the Utah Arts Council. She was also a member of the Daughters of Utah Pioneers.

About Ann Laemmlen Lewis

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3 Responses to A Matter of Bequeathal by Helen Mar Cook (1916-2015)

  1. Mark says:

    Thank you for sharing this and introducing me to her

  2. Shriya M says:

    Dear Ann,
    I came across your blog while searching for the Spanish artist John Lucena’s painting
    I knew neither the artist’s name nor the painting’s title. So I searched it, and found it on your blog. I didn’t have time then to read your entries so I bookmarked it for later, and returned to my work. And I’m so glad I did. I have returned today to read some of your entries and I feel happy. There’s a soothing, calming quality to your writing with moments of warmth and happiness.
    Best wishes and regards from a twenty something in India

    • How nice to meet you, Shriya! And what a very kind note. Thank you. You have a kind and open heart. I wish I could get to know you better. I hope you and your family are well. Our worlds may be far apart, but our hearts can be close. Thank you for your note. Ann

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