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Archive for January 21st, 2008

On A Catholic Childhood

Even after Confession,
Sister Mary Leonette told me
(I was six years old at the time)
My soul would be scarred by sin.
This was during catechism.
I had a question:
“Can’t you make your guardian angel go away?
Not even while you’re going to the toilet?”
Mary Leonette glared at me
And the children laughed.
She was from Vermont and didn’t
Like it in grubby old Omak, Washington, all that much.
I thought guardian angels were creepy
And sermons boring,
And when I had to kneel during Mass
I prayed to God
To make it pass quickly
Because my knees ached.
Padre Nostros De En Chalis
Smelling incense
And having to look at a gory
life-size painted statue of
the crucified Christ,
And think of
The poor souls
In purgatory
And a recent sin of my own
I’d never confess: 
   I stole my sister’s
             plastic glows-in-the-dark Virgin Mary
             And hid it deep within the lilac bush.
God would never understand.

~Janet Campbell Hale
excerpted from Voices of the Rainbow:
Contemporary Poetry by American Indians
Edited by Kenneth Rosen

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