This manuscript was submitted to the April 2019 Arts in Medicine theme issue.
I recall my father sitting on a small stool in the kitchen
dialing friends and family, one by one, rippling outward
to neighbors, acquaintances.
My mom got sick. She died, he would say, and I can still hear
the astonishment in his voice, as if it were a marvel,
not the thing that would cripple us for longer than we imagined.
I wonder if, in childhood, he heard his parents do the same,
when there was no choice but to spread news with one’s voice,
at most removed to the other end of the telephone.
I’m sure he hadn’t pictured himself in that seat, that role —
then again, nor did I, as I listened to his voice
Nearly always, it seems, there is need for explanation:
Here is what has been happening, one begins,
And now this [insert terrible thing].
There was going to be a baby, I say, And now
there isn’t. But instead of saying it, I type it, distance myself
through the letters. Hide my voice. Hide my tears.