For Dionisia

I. And now it’s time
I remember this duster:
A purple and gold, floral thing.
Like a sun dress but
Born of a people that know
Heat more intimately;
Equatorials get more time
With our bright, hot friend.
Duster is a funny word because
This one’s gathered dust. It’s been
A while, you see, since you’ve worn it.
A while, you see, since you’ve gone and
We haven’t been able to gather ourselves
To peer inside your personal treasures of gowns
And dresses and pictures and address books.
The ones you’d use to phone everyone
And see how they’d been.
The glue is fraying at the spine.
The glue is fraying in the family in my
Mind and I’m just left wondering how I
Could have gotten to this point.

II. A family history
My own grandmother died of cancer
When my mom was 13.We immigrated to California when I was 5.
My whole family stayed back and beyond
The rare visit - like Lolo coming
For my graduation -
Or the rare phone call - like my Dad’s dad passing
Back in some hometown of his that I don’t even know
The name of because I never bothered to ask
(Or did he never bother to tell me?)
I never had grandparents.

III. Until you
came along I didn’t have
Grandparents. But when I
Walked in and first met
You: seated in your favorite chair
Bible at your side
Warm smile
Soft hands
All love
I knew what I’d been missing.
I know what I’m missing.

IV. Directions
The family story is you
Gave birth in a cave to
Your oldest during the war.
We’re pregnant now -
You’ve been gone for a month
But I’m sure you know.
I wonder what instructions
You’d give your granddaughter.
I wonder how you’d have smiled at
Me over this little miracle I’m
Positive you willed into existence.
I vision how you’d have held
Our child so close
And assured us we’d be fine
Because God doesn’t let us go and
Of course it was scary but your Uncle
Turned out mostly alright and here
Let’s pray a rosary.

V. Basbas
We’re close now.
Maybe 20 days away.
We’re close now.
Though that seat
Has lost your warmth
And lost your shape
And I’ve got this hole
I can’t replace
And as I’m typing this
My fingers move furiously
To keep up with the air
I am consistently losing.
I feel you here.
And I know what I’ve missed.
And I know what I’m missing.


Abraham A. Joven is a writer and immigrant rights advocate in Southern California. His essays have featured in The Rumpus and The Liverpool Offside, and his poetry in the University of California, Riverside's Mosaic. He has an amazing wife, inspiring daughter, and loves Liverpool Football Club, Hamilton, and comic books.