Sunday, April 25, 2010

Church Camp

I decided to join the Poetry Bus, hosted this week by Argent. She gave us two prompts from which to choose - I chose this one:

Off-Peak/Off-Piste TravelCard

Have you ever been lost? Were you alone in the woods or just going the wrong way up a one-way street. What did it feel like being somewhere you weren't supposed to be?

This is a time when I definitely felt like I was in the wrong place at the wrong time!

Church Camp*

My parents drop me
at the farmhouse door.
I am barefoot
as I wave them off.

Mamaw! I'm here!
Papaw! Where are you?
I am barefoot
and there's no one there.

I am alone.

I run up the hill
through the grass.
I am barefoot
sobbing at the neighbor.

Back down the hill
fast as I can
I run barefoot
over gravel, over terror

to my mother's arms.
She felt my terror
and came looking for me
and took my barefoot self

to church camp.

This poem is about an obvious failure of communication between my parents and grandparents, who had already left for camp when my parents dropped me off. My mom wasn't sure why she decided they needed to come back to check on me, but since I can still feel the terror and abandonment I felt that day almost 40 years ago, it must surely have traveled to her on the road.

*Church camp was really just a piece of land my church owned where we went to play softball (or rollie bat if we didn't have enough people for two teams). But the main purpose of church camp was to make sure you got enough Lincoln County North Carolina red dirt on your person to turn the whole bathtub red when you bathed that night!


  1. Bug this is great! The feeling of abandonment, the running to snd fro!

  2. Being from here, I've certainly been there - church camp, that is! There's a "church camp" road in every county in Appalachia, I believe. I could sense your terror, and I love the barefoot image to portray your vulnerability.

  3. Being a lost or abandoned child is one of the most terrifying experiences, both for the child and for relatives. Very well composed piece Bug.

    PS, thanks for your comment; a card to Pat is a most kind thought.

  4. Fascinating, emotive, alien to me and welcome to the Bus!

  5. This is amazing to me because...

    My earliest memory is of my parents dropping me off at school and I am assuring them I know my way to nursery school class (even though we've come in a different door than usual.) They leave. I get disoriented, freak out, make my way back to the door we entered in, in time to see them driving off. I am screaming at the top of my lungs but I see them go.

    Devastated, I determine that I must find the class AND I DO! I hide in my cubby (my teacher has no idea why I am sitting in the space that is usually reserved our coats, sobbing) and my parents show up. They worried that something wasn't right and they circled the block and came back.

    I wonder how many bloggers have similar abandonment memories?

  6. Amazing how the incident is still embossed in your mind.

    Gosh, how I hated church camp.

  7. ooohh noooo!.. I got lost once as a kid in a supermarket.. that was bad enough, kid's are sensitive little things aren't they!
    Lovely gentle poem, beautiful :-)

  8. The present tense helps the urgency of the piece and the repetition of barefoot reinforces the vulnerability. Nicely worked...

  9. I don't quite understand, Bug ... ... why were you barefoot?

  10. Oh Bug, I feel your pain. I don't ever remember this happening to me, but my nightmares to this day are of exactly this sort of senario!

  11. great poem, the whole 'barefoot' thing worked for me too, I could just see you standing there
    thanks for sharing
    crazy field mouse

  12. Really captured the feelings of a terrified child. Really liked "over gravel, over terror".

  13. Dominic picked out my favorite line, too. How terrifying.

  14. Wow, how scary it must have been. I've never been to camp and I'm glad.

  15. Goldenrod - back at that time in my life I spent the whole summer barefoot. This story must have happened early in the summer because my feet were still tender - by August I wouldn't have even felt the gravel as I ran across it!

    Fortunately our church camp was different than most - we mostly just ate homemade ice cream, watermelon & played ball. We went several Sunday afternoons a month during the warmer months.

  16. Oh, you bring back memories. Some good and some not so good. I once went to a real "camp meeting" with a friend and her family. What an adventure.


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