My Great Great Etc. Uncle Patrick Henry
There's a fortune to be made in just about everything in this country, somebody's father had to invent everything—baby food, tractors, rat poisoning. My family's obviously done nothing since the beginning of time. They invented poverty and bad taste and getting by and taking it from the boss. O my mother goes around chewing her nails and spitting them in a jar: You shouldn't be ashamed of yourself she says, think of your family. My family I say what have they ever done but paint by numbers the most absurd and disgusting scenes of plastic squalor and human degradation. Well then think of your great great etc. Uncle Patrick Henry.
From Absences, published by Atlantic Monthly Press, 1972. Copyright © 1972 by James Tate. Reprinted with permission.