Between the soda machine streaming
Pepsi syrupy sweet carbonation
Homemade barbecue sauce and grease
Toothless middle aged cooks and
Old familiar drunks with red eyes, swollen faces
He tells me a story—
Whether sincere or in jest I can’t tell—
At 17 years old, an asthmatic
A firm believer, strong spirit
In the Christ his lord.
He stands facing his congregation
The ever powerful preacher prays the cure for asthma
And the performance works—
Deceived as a solution for a lifelong affliction.
So he says he will do this for me
As I wipe counters sticky with clumsy spills,
The soda machine and empty glasses
To be filled as my witnesses—
An appropriate ceremony for an agnostic.
I can’t recall what he says
Through the anxiety of my nerves as
I feel my heart quicken, loud beats
Fill the awkwardness of his prayer talk in my ears.
To end the ritual:
“there, no more asthma.”
I smile and thank him
For what I still have yet to decide—
Gratitude given involuntarily for an
Impromptu, unvolunteered prayer.