Let Not a Woman

after I’m caught with my fingers
beneath her shirt at church skipping
Sunday School I am sent to a Christ
-based therapist with a self-proclaimed
77% dyke rehab success rate and
at our first session he doesn’t laugh
when I say I think that’s sexual harassment
after he asks if I’ve ever been touched
by the Lord.

he says I have sinned of the flesh
and I tell him I didn’t fuck her. he says
I need to let him in (the Lord)
and when I say not without permission
I’m asked if I think the fate
of my immortal soul is funny. no
I say but neither is consent.

he tells me about conversion and says
I need to let him in (               )
because his method is most successful
when his clients comply
though acquiescence isn’t required.
let not a woman speak he says
let a woman learn with silence and submission
and when I say no he locks the door.
let not a woman speak.

years later I did fuck that girl
from Sunday School. but only
because she asked me. she asked
and I was good. I loved the Lord
my God my God oh my God
and so did she. and I was good.
I was good. she told me.

Raye Hendrix is a poet from rural Alabama. She earned her BA and MA from Auburn University and her MFA from the University of Texas at Austin. Raye is the winner of the Keene Prize for Literature (2019), the Patricia Aakhus Award given by Southern Indiana Review (2018), and the New Writers Project Michael Adams Thesis Prize in Poetry, selected by Robyn Schiff (2019). In 2018, she was a finalist for the Keene Prize, the Fania Kruger Fellowship in Writing, and Tinderbox Poetry Journal’s Brett Elizabeth Jenkins Poetry Prize. She has also received honorable mentions for poetry from AWP’s Intro Journals Project (2015) and Southern Humanities Review’s Witness Poetry Prize honoring Jake Adam York (2014). Raye’s work has been featured on Poetry Daily and has appeared in or is forthcoming from 32 Poems, Southern Indiana Review, The Chattahoochee Review, Shenandoah, Cimarron Review, Zone 3, and elsewhere. Raye is a PhD fellow studying English and Crip Theory at the University of Oregon.