This Tattered Catechism

Katharine Lee Bates

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THIS tattered catechism weaves a spell,
Invoking from the Long Ago a child
Who deemed her fledgling soul so sin-defiled
She practised with a candle-flame at hell,
Burning small fingers, that would still rebel
And flinch from fire. Forsooth not all beguiled
By hymn and sermon, when her mother smiled,
That smile was fashioning an infidel.
"If I'm in hell," the baby logic ran,
"Mother will hear me cry and come for me.
If God says no —I don't believe He can
Say no to mother." Then at that dear knee
She knelt demure, a little Puritan
Whose faith in love had wrecked theology.

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