May 2004 / Volume Five / Issue Two
Liz Lynn Miller
Born-Again Again

Praise be!
Uncle’s found religion
and quit the bottle.
Now he’s humbly asked his in-laws
if he might say Thanksgiving grace,
and Yea, his god is mighty,
he reminds the circled kin
all holding hands
heads bowed, eyes closed
while the mashed potatoes stiffen
and the turkey slices cool.
The littlest niece swings
on her parents’ hands
and a pair of nephews
smirk and wink now we’re
up to the itemization of sins.
Giblet dressing wafts along
and onward, fades; the gravy
and cranberry sauce congeal
while Uncle begs for mercy
for lies and disrespect,
for cussing and petty crimes,
one transgression at a time.
On the sweet potatoes
marshmallow pillows harden,
pecans soften. Someone yawns
and several coughs go round
the room; a tummy rumbles.
He’s winding down and none too soon
if shifting feet mean anything,
and just when Uncle’s tone
suggests conclusion he segues
into “Our Father who…”
and all join in, the murmuring rising
to panic-speed; then at last Amen,
and a restrained stampede
to the serving line
as somebody mutters “never again”
presciently:  Uncle tumbles
from the wagon, forsakes his god
by Christmas time.