Our Communion by Caroline Barr

She tells me: if you open it, you finish it.

The first time wine touched my tongue
I was too young to know, in communion
you shouldn’t smack your lips and say ahhh
when the priest tips the chalice back.

Now, 18, I felt the bitter warmth that tasted
like Sunday. So similar in memory, I wondered
if St. Thomas shopped at Kroger.

My friend put her finger to the bottom
of the glass, pushing it up to find home
on my mouth. Finish it.

This is what we have to do — open, swallow.

Two Episcopalians and their wine — I think
there’s a joke in there somewhere — drinking
not the blood of Christ, but the yeast of grapes
paired well with fettuccine alfredo.

I felt like I should be kneeling, knees pressed
into a needlepoint scene of the Nativity or
an ark. When I took that last drop and she released
the glass, I wanted her to say: peace be with you.
And I would say: and also with you.

Caroline Barr
Caroline_Barr-headshot_opt (1)Caroline Barr is a recent graduate of Auburn University’s undergraduate Creative Writing program. She currently serves as an editorial intern with BOA Editions, Ltd., as well as an assistant editor for Southern Humanities Review.