I am content when wakened birds,
Before they fly, test the reality
Of misty fields, by their sweet questionings;
But when the birds are gone, and their warm fields
Return no more, where, then, is paradise?
-Sunday Morning, Wallace Stevens
This is what it means to be broke in a time where your friends own smartphones
and post pictures of latte and waffles on Instagram: daytime light
no longer spears through the windows but barely makes them glow.
The knocking on the clear Plexiglas pane is another poor soul dressed
in olive skin and tattered clothes with his little five-year-old palm
stretched out to you, the other holding a somewhat rusty tin cup.
The guy cleaning tables at Jollibee sees the little beggar and draws the blinds
so that you wouldn’t feel bad. Where were their mothers? Some social workers
just so happened to be hungry and were eating burgers at a table opposite you.
They wore frowns, their eyes fixed on their food and drinks. The sound
of metal hitting a glass pane makes you turn towards the window.
“That same kid had run away from six foster homes,” you hear one of them say.
The window’s warm glow fades with the day as the shadows grow longer.
A boy helps a man wearing sunglasses walk past you, holding a cane.
John Oliver Ladaga is taking BA English (Creative Writing) at UP Mindanao.