Call It in the Air (excerpt)

Ed Pavlić


Denver I.C.U. The nurse called it a grave condition. A doctor
told me that you were a young woman with a dead liver. No one
needed to tell me why you weren’t on the transplant list. No one
knows. It’s not their fault.

Everyone waited for me to ask. Everyone needs to tell me
why you’re not on the transplant list. They don’t know why
they’re right about that. I know they’re right about that but they
don’t know that that’s why. It’s their job to tell me they do. It’s in
their stance. They’re ready for me to object. To argue, to resist.
To object: I know that accent is on the first syllable. The nurses
and doctors don’t know that. It’s not their fault. I won’t argue,
demand reasons. I’ve long known there are no reasons. It doesn’t
matter. Their job isn’t to know why. I won’t óbject you Kate. Their
job isn’t to know why, it’s to tell me why. It’s a grave situation. In
grave situations, I learn, it’s important to listen & listen & not to
let the things said get in the way of what I hear.



Salida, CO. The roof of your jeep must be up on the
mountainside near the tree line in Tim’s garage. We’re not going
back for it. The night before we go to the Angel, we drive up to
Leadville and back looking for orange and blue thread you need
for something you have to do immediately. A custom-made
margarita in a stainless coffee mug in your hand: “I told him it
needed more Grand Marnier.” I drove. Somewhere along the
way, heat blasting past us & out the open jeep, the mountain sky
turned to black steel & swung open its empty mouth. The line of
your face pushed against the tongue of the night. The air tastes
blue & plays our heads like cold flame. The dark line of your face
pushes into bright black steel. A shut-eyed face hidden by a night
wing. A serrated song with a split tongue of onyx feathers.

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Ed Pavlić is author of more than a dozen books written across and between genres the most recent of which are: Call It In the Air (2022), Outward: Adrienne Rich’s Expanding Solitudes (2021), Let It Be Broke: Poems (2020), and Another Kind of Madness: A Novel (2019). He lives in Athens, GA where he works as Distinguished Research Professor of English, African American Studies and Creative Writing at the University of Georgia.

Cover of Call It in the Air

Minneapolis, Minnesota

“Pavlić’s elegiac, genre-bending work considers the life and death of his elder sister, Kate, questions whether individuals can ever understand each other, and writes into and against the stronghold of personal loss and grief.”
Publishers Weekly, Top Ten for Fall 2022

“Pavli​​ć offers a vulnerable, visceral portrait of life and grief.”
—Publishers Weekly

"We talk so much about permission, but seldom do we talk about soulful persuasion. More than any book I've read this decade, Call It in the Air pushed me to accept the absolute experience of grief, in all its abundance. Pavlić at first appears to do the heavy work of grief and assemblage for us, but he does more than that; he holds us slightly as he asks us to name what we see as we float, fall, and flee. Call It in the Air is simply one of the greatest elegies I have ever read."
—Kiese Laymon

Call It in the Air is an intimate record of grief and turmoil within family, sister, and self. Their voices cut across time and geography, from the early 1970s to the present, from ‘Near Buena Vista, CO’ to ‘Denver I.C.U.’ to ‘Salida, CO,’ and out along ‘I-80 E,’ forming a cartography of pain and failing body—eyes, liver, kidneys, feet, hands, and ‘nails black from the inside-out with blood.’ As he traverses between place and memory, his dying sister and himself, Ed Pavlić paints an intensely beautiful self-portrait: ‘I sit with a tissue, dizzy-ready.’ Ed Pavlić and Kate Pavlich: eternally bound by a love ‘misspelled.’”
—Don Mee Choi

“At the center of Ed Pavlić’s Call It in the Air is a profoundly honest and deeply loving account of a brother’s bottomless grief. In language that is at once haunted and haunting, vivid and vulnerable, this book reconciles the darkest shadows of our memory with the light those we love leave behind.”
—Lacy M. Johnson

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