by Trace Estes
On a whim—and to show
I can afford it—I commission
a local artist to recreate the cane
from my father’s favorite film, The Wolf Man,
as a gift for his birthday.
It is fashioned with solid silver
wolf’s head handle and ferrule
separated by a length
of polished ebony and I know
as I present it with a flourish
that he’ll end up hating it—
a daily reminder of his infirmity.
I’m banking on the fulcrum of expense
and the thought behind the gift to finally pry
the two-word phrase from my father
I’ve waited on all my life. The oohs and ahs
from the rest of the gathered die off
to the background buzz used to combat
uncomfortable silences as he studies
his present with the usual solemn expression,
actually twirling it like a baton.
When he issues his two-word proclamation:
he is completely ignorant
to the release of held breath
or the tennis volley of glances
between Mom, my sister, my wife and me.
Climbing the cane from his wing
chair, he heaves himself upright,
totters toward the kitchen pointing
the silver tip at different klatchs of guests,
asking after refills. At the doorway he shoots
a glance at me and inquires if I’m still
a gin and tonic man, as if unaware—
or unconcerned—about my years of sobriety.
Trace Estes, the Managing Editor of Alsop Review, lives in the shadows and likes the view. For thirty-five years, he has been forced to write by a pissed-off demon with a trident. He has been recently published in Tilt, WORM #34, Avatar Review, Literary Bohemian, Sigurd Journal, kaleidowhirl; had five poems in the premiere of Centrifugal Eye. His work has also been included in the print anthologies Mind Mutations, Bone and Tissue and Slow Dancing to Invisible Music.