Pure Slush

flash ... without the wank

My Fathers Cake

<  Cake-Off

Patissier  >

by Alan Walowitz


If I wanted cake, I would’ve ordered one,

he manages from the darkness of the hall,

a joke, even at this late hour.

He tumbles into a chair and inspects the scene—

us, our gifts, and what my mother’s baked,

the candles already lit-- the readiness is all--

then nods weak thanks as if

we were strangers come to his house

and soon his slow rising is to show us the door

and bid a polite goodbye.

But he pauses just past mid-arc, his face

a sad balloon bobbing helpless

above the cake, and when he finds

some breath to take, his wrinkles fade

and he becomes a cartoon-father:

red, distorted, and about to explode.


And as he does he blows the candles out

one for this birthday, one for the next,

expelling the long, tired breaths

so they deflect clear across the table

and air becomes flame, smoke, and finally

my mother’s smile. You see, she seems to say.

You see. Then as final curtain, all sing

as father performs the old disappearance,

his footsteps growing faint as the sounds

of the world when we’re weary and diving

straight toward sleep. My mother sighs and says,

You know, he’s never been sick

a day in his life. Only when we nod

does she begin to cut the cake. How expertly

she clears the knife, moving it

in and out a glass of water.  


published 20 September 2016