The Society of Mary of the Most Holy Rosary met each Thursday after school, at the rectory of Our Lady of Mercy Church, to pray the rosary and to clean votive candles. Kerosene and Hail Marys filled the air as we cleaned out old wax and inserted new candles in the red and white votive holders. All the while Mary Jane would be fingering her rosary, leading us in holy work and holy prayer.
I had joined the blessed Society to be nearer to Mary Jane, as had Gerry and John—the only other boys in the group. She of the ten gold stars for perfect daily attendance for mass and communion during the Holy Mother’s month of May. Of all the students in Sister’s grade eight class, she was closest to Sister and closest to God. She of the angora sweaters, showing pubescent roundness that made the boys nudge and the girls envious. I endured weeks of Holy Mary, Mother of Gods, praying for this sinner to be liked by her.
Religion, piety, and prayer lost out to the muscles and football of a high school junior. A protestant! From public school! And, though I took some comfort from my Baltimore Catechism, which claimed that he was cursed to burn forever in Hell, I knew that in my portion of the living Earth, that it was he who was blessed and I the one in the inferno.
Joseph A Farina is a retired lawyer and award-winning poet, in Sarnia, Ontario, Canada. His poems have appeared in Philadelphia Poets, Tower Poetry, The Windsor Review, and Tamaracks: Canadian Poetry for the 21st Century. He has two books of poetry published, The Cancer Chronicles and The Ghosts of Water Street.
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