By Rebecca T. Dickinson
White cloths—embroidered with a gold cross—cover two loaves of bread.
Another covers a silver pitcher looking like the folds of a Victorian dress.
The pastor calls the congregation row-by-row to come before the alter and kneel.
When I kneel, the associate minister whispers in my ear,
“This is the body of Christ broken for you.”
Then comes the grape juice; meant to be blood or symbolic wine.
On my first night as a college freshman, a boy and a girl bought beer; not wine.
We went to a party in Columbia. One apartment. One drink. Another. No bread
to calm the spinning ceiling of an empty room after going away from a “Hey you.”
Two strangers came. I locked my legs when they tried to pull up my dress.
One with a hat that says, “Cocks,” whispered in my ear
“Have done it with two?” I said, “No.” They wanted me to kneel.
Two Busch Light boys fingered me, but I did not kneel.
The new friends from college disappeared smoking weed, drinking beer, and wine.
I pushed a hand away, and I said, “No.” The other licked and bit my ear.
I screamed inside. Do I want this? No. I wanted Mom, Dad, or a taste of bread.
The fan, spun, and if I moved, I would throw up. “Stop. That’s my dress.”
One went away whispering Hush, and the other kept touching. I said, “Not you.”
“Nothing happened,” I said. “That’s not what he said about you,” said the boy I road from Newberry with. I never let him have sex with me, nor did I kneel.
“You’re not invited back,” he said. Ride to Newberry, long, in my rumpled dress.
Why did I leave Newberry College with strangers? Dip bread in juice or wine
I remember from long ago, and His body, the broken from bread.
I remember crying hearing it again whispered in my ear.
Years later, I try to forget glances, or “Did you hear about her?” from ear to ear.
The blame, almost raped, or a slut anyways lay not with them, but always, “you.”
News states Betsy says, “Colleges will recognize rights of accusers.” I break bread,
and spread vegan cream cheese. Drop the knife. Think: Was she ever told to kneel?
Try to forget that night and days when no one spoke to me. I drank more wine
Until I gave it up. My daughter’s curls twirl, dreaming of princesses, in her dress.
Never have I taken my daughter to communion to kneel in a white dress
For her to hold my hand, go to the alter, and a pastor to whisper in her ear,
“This is the blood of Christ spilt for you,” before she would drink symbolic wine.
or the whisper, “This is the body of Christ broken for you,”
because church or man, she decides on her own to stand or to kneel,
and if the hunger in her stomach is enough to accept a bit of bread.
I still hear Betsy saying, “There will be better rights for you.”
The you, the men, who order or force a woman to kneel
A girl—a baby—like my daughter to be a piece of their bread.