Sweetener | Teen Ink

Sweetener MAG

February 28, 2019
By lclarke BRONZE, Arlington Heights, Illinois
lclarke BRONZE, Arlington Heights, Illinois
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

I will never forget that sticky summer day

when the sun made your armchair golden

and you shared slices of a distilled past,

an exotic story on an island you called home.


You always smelled like ginger and fruit,

tracking mud in from your garden,

earth from your trees.

Pouring ice cubes into our glasses and

cleaning smeared fingerprints off

the kitchen counter.


How could I know you split your branch

and planted a new tree?

I thought lolos never rose above

like a warm winter day when the snow
starts to melt.

How could I know your family called
your new language

thick and too Western?


You were surrounded by familiars,

those you called brothers

always had bright cheeks and hiccups,

gambling their lives away in cheap casinos.

Sometimes I think of all the titos and titas I’ll never know,

those you left in the trees and the ocean.


But now your roots are here, in the house
on Addison,

miles away from any mango tree, in your armchair

before your heart gave out, letting light

spill into the room and sweeten our fruit.

The author's comments:

Lolo means grandpa in informal Filipino

Tito and tita mean uncle and aunt

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