Winter, 2016–2017 / No. 38

We used to have this poster on the wall. It was

an advertisement for Minute Maid. A row of

orange groves. It went on top of billboards

and was sealed inside the glass of bus shelters.

The poster gave my parents a different view

than the one we had outside our window. We

had only snow and the exhaust pipe from a car

parked just outside. It was made of paper that

didn’t tear. Even if you tried. From afar, the blue

in the sky and the green on the ground looked uniform.

Up close, they were together a thousand little dots.

The blue was made of blue, but the green was of bits

of blue and yellow arranged on top of each other.

The yellow came first and then the blue. It was

the distant looking that brought them together,

that filled the space between them. This poster

was our future looking in on us, but we didn’t see.

We didn’t see how inside it would be my mother

picking oranges in those fields. Her nails cut short,

dirt underneath quarter-moon shaped. And her hair

would feel like straw and half her face would sag from

a stroke. She says not to think on too much of it,

she can’t taste anything on one side except bitterness.

Souvankham Thammavongsa is the author of three poetry collections, most recently Light. Last updated winter, 2016–2017.