“Poster” by Souvankham Thammavongsa
from the 2017 Poem in Your Pocket Day booklet
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.
First printed in Taddle Creek Magazine (Issue 38)