Can you call me a war veteran
if I return to the same battlefield
on the same day every year?
I’ve memorized all the landmines--
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram--
and steered clear of them,
only to discover more
when I ventured out
on the fourth year:
church, restaurant, park, florist.
Nowhere is safe.
No one is innocent.
Even my YouTube ads are forcing gifts down my throat.
Even the waitress who takes my order
carries pastries with greeting tags in her left hand.
Even the children at the park are calling me
I make do
by hugging my little brothers as tight as I can.
I give them everything they ask for:
a pair of jeans, 500 diamonds
for Mobile Legends.
I meet my friend for dinner.
He gives me a sunflower and says
“Happy Mother’s Day”
it is the pause he takes before
"To your Mama in heaven”
that lets me know
I am doing enough.
Heather Ann Pulido is an indigenous and bisexual author from Baguio City, Philippines. A longtime student journalist and content writer, she is a returning literary artist. Her poems are in Moss Puppy, Sage Cigarettes, and JAKE. When she's supposed to be writing, she's taking a long walk or doom-scrolling on Twitter (@heather_tries).