by Katie Kemple
The same big Catholic family always
sat in the first pew on Sunday, beautiful
boys and girls, button down, neatly brushed
and groomed. And their mother twisted
her shiny hair in a clip, always looked
concerned, stoic and lovely, a doll of wonder.
I could not watch another, if we happened
to be at her mass. The definition of Mary
the mother. How I worried for her health,
her safety. One pregnancy after the other,
well into her forties and rarely a smile,
but never a frown. A cherubic child
with Down Syndrome in her lap. The picture
of suffering for something greater. No
doubt her children went on in the Jesuit
tradition to become successful businessmen,
engineers, doctors, esteemed professors
and superior judges—mothers, too,
some of them. I wondered what she would
have done if she hadn’t been so fertile.
I pined for her soul in another life
and wanted to know her secrets. She
was my personal Madonna, a Catholic
mystery. Why do I still think of her today
even? What makes a woman dedicate
her life to a faith guaranteed to bring
her pain? To submit to save everyone
else first, to be humble, to be put upon
again and again, is that what womanhood
is supposed to be?
I saw it in her and walked away.
* * * * *
Katie Kemple's poetry has appeared recently on Right Hand Pointing, The Collidescope, The Racket, The Sock Drawer, Tiny Seed Literary Journal, Harbinger Asylum, and The Dewdrop. She writes in Southern California, by way of upstate New York, Boston, and Virginia.