for Lolo 

Ma says not to swat at the housefly
chirring in our headspace

for the past two hours
because it just might be you.

Ma shows me the flimsy browned pictures
of you & me in your workshop,

a scored-leather tool belt strapped across
your chest like a bandolier.

My whole body smaller still
than a durian, than a jackfruit.

Ma asks if I remember you. I tell her:

            I don’t even remember myself.

I have now lived over ten times
the years that I have known you.

All my life, I have known you
only through unknowing.

Each year, Ma collects more and more
superstitions. On your death anniversaries,

she reminds me & Ate & Ading to not be
so heavy-footed around your annual shrine.

The tame light of a fat candle splashes
on the bowl brimmed with your favorites:

plantains, mangoes, and the plumpest grapes.
How odd it feels to celebrate your passing.

To offer sweet fruit to the ghost
of a ghost.

Because it is all I am ever able to offer,
I practice a few reminding beliefs.

I walk lightly
around candles.

I leave sugar out
for flies.


John Paul Martinez