The Summer Our Mother Turned Catholic by Barbara Campbell


The Summer Our Mother Turned Catholic 


Was the one when we moved to the Lane’s

estate just after we had left our sister

in a far-away place for the retarded.

Mrs. Lane, devout Catholic, consoled our mother –

a respite for us from the wails and fights

of the past months as Mom, with bowed head,

fingered her new rosary and whispered

Hail Marys for the forgiveness found

in Christ’s sacrifice of blood and flesh

while we were free to roam

with whey-faced Nelson. He (later

became a priest) led us one day

to a thick copse of evergreens

hiding a rock-ringed pond. We dropped

our panties to meet his dare inciting us

to jump in and splash him. Enraged

he caught a frog in each hand

and threw one after the other,

again and again, against a rock

till both had flattened

into moist tangled lumps of skin,

eyes and mossy blood, reminding us

that Mom’s new fervor would not

bring back our sister or make us safe.



Originally from New York, Barbara Campbell has lived many years in Charlotte, NC. After a career in communications and publishing, she began to write poetry and has had poems published in Rattle, Kakalak, Pinesong, Charlotte Writers Club Anthology Journey Without, The Southern Poetry Anthology: North Carolina, The North Carolina Literary Review and Poet Lore. She is currently working on her first book of poetry.