Poetry by Soleil Garneau

“dwell” by Elijah Guerra / @deercrossingthesea





I allow myself to be a passenger on the plane with my
mother and her mother.    We’re

it’s 1974, my mother is twelve and my Lola is thirty-one
and I am eighteen years from being born,

and the Philippines is under martial law so we’re getting
the fuck outta there.

                                                                               Over the Pacific,
the three of us sit, nervous and unsure of what’s to come.
On the plane

                                                                               we think about
our goodbyes.    We wonder if we’ll miss our home in the tropics.
On the plane we speed towards an infinite number of

                                                                               different futures,
like branches, like constellations of possibility.    Astral projections.
In each image we are smiling,

American.    On the plane we don’t consider what we’re leaving

                                                                               We don’t think
of when we might return, of what will happen to our old home when
we’re gone.    On the plane we sever a tie.    We let ourselves,

                                                                               flying from a past home
                                                                               towards a future home,
become the kind of women who can adapt.    The kind of women who
adopt new homes.    So barreling forward,

                                                                               we become women
who, in leaving, may never return home.    Women who may never really be

Perhaps we don’t just build homes, we build ourselves into homes,
becoming the kind of women                          for whom home
                                                                               is just
                                                                                             that —

                                                                               barreling forward.



Weather Patterns

              after Marisa de los Santos
Summer in Louisiana, I let the back door swing open,
and every day the rain poured down.    Rain caught the

wide leaves of our tree, lush against the chainlink fence.
That sky hung heavy, beautiful, gray in those storms.

There was a gang of chickens almost ever-present,
howling half the day and kicking up leaves.    Only

in rain were they silent.    Only hidden under our house, or
the neighbors’ houses with the cats, in a world parallel

to ours, underneath us, outside.    There was something
about that sky — like a leaky ceiling, waiting to open.

Before a storm, New Orleans would go silent.    If it really
rained, some parts of town would flood, the bayous would

spill into the street, until the streets became bayous.
Like those bayous, there are creeks or tiny rivers trickling through
Manila.    It’s 1970, my mom is running, no shoes, in the creek
behind Juana’s house.

Now she has callouses as big as coins on her feet.

Back then, one of her aunties had a farmacia, she said, like a lean-

to, with corrugated metal outside — the rolling gate propped open
with a stick.

In the tropics my mom, as a young girl, would sell shaved ice
with her cousins.    A whole family I’ve never met —

and what about that heat? The air, sticky.
Wide, flat banana leaves, catching rain.
Remember that one hurricane,
                                                         we stocked the house with
bottled water and a zillion kinds of snacks, in case of a flood.

We stayed inside and probably got drunk all day.    Skin dry,
dehydrated for the first time.    We played board games and
watched movies on the mattress on our living room floor.

It was supposed to have been a big one.    The sky,
heavy and low like always.    It spat all day but
never really rained.    We opened the door.
It’s Christmas and there’s a storm in the Visayas some thousands of
miles away.    My aunt Candice checks her phone every hour. There’s

wreckage on the news in the morning.    Tin roofing flying through
the air like candy wrappers, weightless.    The wind swirls rainwater

like a twisted alchemy.    Like clothes and clothes and clothes
strung up on the line can hold through the storm somehow

stronger than trees.


Soleil Garneau is a Los Angeles-based writer.  She is an MFA candidate in UC Riverside’s Department of Creative Writing.