Whiskey Glass

Patriarchs die
producing epic tales
hidden from generations
never to be heard

1958, age 38
my father
alcohol, an argument, an automobile
a Greek tragedy untold

1960, age 61
my mother’s father
colin cancer, terrible pain
a Victorian novel unwritten

1977, age 96
my father’s father
long life, bitter estrangement
Shakespeare unperformed

1993, age 49
my elder brother
brain cancer, robbed of everything
a modern morality play unseen

2006, age 84
my stepfather
tobacco habit, emphysema
a series of short stories unread

Beside the 21st Century grave
spoke my nephew,
“Now, Uncle,
you’re the patriarch.”

It was not supposed to be
It was not written to be
this way
This is the wrong story.

Patris, Latin, “father”
Arche, Greek, “high”
High father

Whiskey in my glass,
on my breath, in my blood
on my brain — high father.
Patriarch, indeed

High father: Hi, Father!
Hie, father — hie, farther!
Hie thee to a future, father!
Long story, maybe.

Who can say?

by C Eric Funston
13 May 2014