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Randy Gonzales

Tropical Depressions


The path as reported. Filipinos settled here before the Louisiana Purchase. In history in the eye. From Manila to Acapulco to St. Malo La. Their platform destroyed rebuilt destroyed into assimilation. Their children attended New Orleans schools. The turns more than pinpoints. What moves with it? Misplaced in currents. The push of history time curves culture community. My grandfather lived out his life in the unincorporated areas. Wide lawns squirrels hiding out the storms north of the lake. Flying debris trees falling. Rarely water like in the delta St. Bernard and down rising tides. Force out a whole way of living. Fishermen are most at risk. In Manila Village dried shrimp blown off rooftops. They are moved inland. Integrated. Living room love of boats. Startover. There is only one beginning. How many readjustments? 1763 built Philippine-style villages in St. Malo. Its course without change predictable between the highs and lows. The possibility it could turn into the lake empty into New Orleans. A hurricane demolished the settlement in 1915. The huts perched above the swamp lifted (wind or water?). Catylst for exodus. How long could they last? During the depression Filipinos came south cheaper living. A new south community on the way in. We are moving closer to water. Manila Village rose out of Barataria Bay an island of homes. All water my grandmother said. Integration. A dried shrimp industry muskrat shrimp oysters at the edge of the gulf. She never could have lived there. She’s always lived about a mile from the river. We don’t startover. Something remains. A structure. Pylons. Barnacled. The unpredictable turns. She lost everything. There are no pictures of what slips past her. My grandfather peddled a stationary bike contrived to grate coconuts. Life of other American. Great-grandfather left everything for a more affordable south. New Orleans is a bowl. Grandfather came ashore dropped to the bottom. Returned home once. In Quezon, his sister held me. A memory snatched from blowing away. The still beauty of the eye. The winds sway the tall pines testing for the snapping point. They remain adjusting to the new conditions. The ability to speak Spanish gave the manilamen access. There were no Filipinas. My grandfather must have thought the same when he met my grandmother. Only a generation for the words to go. Blonde-haired cajun accented descendants. There is no going back. Who knew at the edge of the swamp they existed? Every beam and plank and board and shingle of the houses upon stilts. She can cook adobo and sotanghon. They escaped from Spanish galleons jumping ship running to the swamp. Ulam without rice. Vinegared fish. A solitary world of men. Their wives stayed in New Orleans. Melting into America. Married Cajun women, Indians, and others. Running to the water. My grandmother rode it out in Baton Rouge. There is no going home. Debris of what she came from. My grandfather is buried in Pearl River. Far from the Mississippi in tall pines. The turn comes. The pylons are left.

Randy Gonzales is a native of New Orleans who now lives and writes in Al Ain. He has been working overseas for ten years and has resided in places like Fukui, Yongin, Abu Dhabi, Pohang, and Laguna.

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