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  • Danielle Mattila

Lessons from Church Camp

I remember

watching my baby sister cry

because she was taught to fear


Her tears, tattering

my mother's t-shirt

as she pleaded

please Mommy,

don't let me go to hell.

I remember

my spirit shattering

on the hallway carpet


her naive vulnerability

was taken advantage of.

Hell is only for cruel people,

like murderers

my mother tried to comfort her

in visible anguish,

from what they did

to her five year old daughter.

I remember repudiating

the church for ensnaring

a defenseless mind.

Someone so susceptible,

who hasn't yet felt

mundane failure

or disappointment

or even self-awareness.

I knew my sister would never

be a murderer

but now,

how could she enjoy

that innocence?

The mindless manipulation

of a clueless child,

the undermining,

of pure thought,

taught me to rely on


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