How could I pack for the Philippines at a time like this?

This morning I woke from another bad dream


of a woman running from me in horror.

This morning I put on my shoes and gave Dipper his leash,


and outside, smoke was thick around the everyday      trees

I’ve seen since 2006 when we first moved here.


On Messenger, I write to my friend in Canberra something like,

You’ll be fine if you’re young and fit and healthy


She says, Today, it is the vulnerable, tomorrow it is all of us.

This morning I am worried for my lungs.


So far, they have survived the death of a grandfather

who drowned in his sleep.


Every year on Invasion Day my mother broadcasts

to all of her friends and family,


thanks the government on Facebook

for the life we couldn’t have elsewhere.


She says, Babe, the water can’t touch us here.

Here, the Werribee River could not flood us


even with its strong spine.

Here, we can finally run along the waterside.


I say, Ma, my first love drowned me a little bit.

In two days I am returning to the country I couldn’t live inside of.


I promised myself I would stop fleeing, forgive me

I had to go.


If I didn’t board the plane, it would still leave without me. Oh—

now I am on the plane,


guzzling petrol as we fly over New South Wales. Oh—

now I am trying very hard to process


all the names of the dead:



Darlene Silva Soberano is a poet. Their work has appeared in Mascara Literary Review, Australian Poetry, and Cordite Poetry Review, among other places. They are currently a poetry editor for Voiceworks Magazine.