I Happen to Call My Father While He’s in the Midst of a Panic Attack
his words tumbling and jamming like debris at a gutter grate. I begin the litany
of questions to calm him. Are you hurt? No. Are you sick? No. Did you eat dinner?
Yes. You’re okay, Dad. You just need some sleep. He says Okay. Really, though, he’s
not. His brain has forgotten how to tell his body to move. The way a foot lifts,
the curl of fingers. He lives surrounded by caregivers but admits he just asked
them to call my brother. For what? I ask, but he has no answer. There is no logic
to need. He’s calling for someone to make it all right, leaving messages after the
beep. I just bought a face cream that costs too much and went for a jog, my own
panicked call to keep time at bay. All over, calls are going out. The message light
is blinking. That night, I dream of a swan gliding over dark waters, looking for
his chicks. They are bobbing, helpless against the current. He lifts his wing to
cover them, to settle them against his white feathers, his body already turning,
already floating away.
The Roofer Next Door
hammering, is playing
a Spanish radio station,
song after song of lament--
men singing heartbreak
over the thrum of guitars,
their voices rising with every
verse until they reach that
tenor pitch of pain,
the language of longing.
And when they do,
the roofer joins in,
flinging his voice over
the rooftops with a gusto
that suggests a heartbreak
of his own, or how hard it is
to labor under a blazing sun.
Or maybe it’s just the joy
that comes in singing
a suffering we don’t
have to feel ourselves.
About the Author: Katherine Lo is a writer and high school English teacher living in Southern California. Her work has previously been published by Poet Lore, Rattle, CALYX, Qu, and Timberline Review.