I’m Calling to Say

by Christian Hanz Lozada

“I’m Nani’s husband. Not that Nani, the other one,
Papa’s granddaughter, no, we never met.
I’m calling to say, Papa had a stroke.
There’s nothing to do he might get better.”

Each call was the same, the same words but,
each time, with more tears till every syllable
took one sharp inhale and violent exhale
as if I was breathing for two, till I had to leave

the room to sob between calls. I sat with Papa after,
doing nothing, that’s all his heart would allow, nothing
except stories about his siblings emptying out the back
of the pickup truck on the way home, each responsible

for stealing one ripe pineapple. Kamehameha School
community service where he helped the elderly
and later took care of their bodies at the mortuary.
We had nothing but the stories, which I couldn’t share

because Nani didn’t hear them. All she had was grounding
the forgetfulness: We can’t go for a drive, Papa. We don’t live
there anymore, Papa. Tutu is dead, Papa. “There’s nothing to do
he might get better.” Because he was fine, we went back to work.

We were told he was fine, it was fine, but the night before returning,
“I know it’s late, I tried calling Nani. Don’t worry, we sang him
his favorite songs, it was like Tutu:
he wasn’t alone,
the family was there”
the family was there
except us.

When we returned home,
there was only absence
unexplained,
bottomless
absence.

 

Christian Hanz Lozada (he/him/they) is the son of an immigrant Filipino and a descendant of the Confederacy, so he knows the shape of hope and exclusion. He co-authored the poetry book Leave with More Than You Came With from Arroyo Seco Press and the history book Hawaiian in Los Angeles. His poems and stories have appeared in Hawai`i Pacific Review (Pushcart Nominee), Mud Season, Dryland, among others. Christian has featured at the Autry Museum, the Twin Towers Correctional Facility, Tebot Bach, Beyond Baroque, and the American Library Association President Inauguration. He lives in San Pedro, CA and uses his MFA to teach his neighbors and their kids at Los Angeles Harbor College.

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