My father bellowed ballads on Sundays during and after his morning showers before driving us to the flea market. My father transformed into Chente, Jose Alfredo, Pedro Infante, Javier Solis, Antonio Aguilar, the great voices, the ones que tienen la voz, he asserted, thumping his fist against his hairy chest, real stage presence, macho bravado, their chests rising and falling with all the drama of the star-crossed lovers in their songs. It is when my father speaks to me about them that I learned they are not only real singers but have real hearts, real stories, real heartbreak. I learned that my father is a romantic. I learned that my father is a romantic in spirit but not in practice. I learned my father was once a fighter who became a lover. My father who became a fighter again. I learned that my father does not love to fight but often fights with people he loves. I learned from my father that this is what it means to be a man. I learned that I do not love men like my father. And despite that fact, I love my father and the way his crying makes it look like he’s singing and the way his apologies sound like soft love poems.

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Alondra Adame is a Chicanx essayist, poet, and educator. They currently live in Chico, California where they teach and take walks with their partner and their dog, Buu. Their writing often revolves around family, identity, and the Chicanx experience in rural northern California. You can find more of their work in The Nasiona, PALABRITASFlies, Cockroaches, and Poets, and more. Follow Alondra on Twitter @alondrathepoet!