Sweet and Sour

By Genevieve Soriano Aguinaldo

when something so tiny owns my breath
I think
of all the candy wrappers I threw when I was young

doctors, sour with grief
wear them now
in pink, white, and blue

bank tellers become priests
holding confession in plastic
asking how much do we owe
or how much do we need

teachers hide their tears in stickers
their anxieties in emojis

when something so tiny owns my breath
I think
of jeepney rides home
when the wind kisses my cheeks
when I could loudly say para
and could still see people’s teeth

now even jeepneys are wrapped
“no mask, no face shield, no entry”

homes are contained in bubble
lives are chewed and spitted out every minute

when something so tiny owns my breath
I think
how did the world become
somebody else’s candy?

Genevieve Soriano Aguinaldo enjoys cooking adobo and salmon sinigang for husband and four children. She is currently under the MA Language and Literacy Education Program of the University of the Philippines Open University. This pandemic taught her that her children’s laughter are unicorns in tutus. 

I wrote this poem when my son asked me when the covid pandemic will end so he could go to 7 eleven. It was such a painful moment for us, being isolated from our families, as we rarely leave the house in fear. The total covid cases in my country, the Philippines is now 1.12 million. and the numbers are getting higher.

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