Blanchard Mountain, USA*

- After Dunya Mikhail


In the afternoon, the poppies reveal themselves more beautiful than anything digital;

in the early morning, they were all folded like a map,  

and then as the sun found its way on

to the stage of sky, the

poppies found a way to make themselves more visible. The wall

of summer wildflower displays

is gone now, the

sun rendering everything the sepia tone of an early American

Western. There were wars

here once, between people who have now been in

the ground so long they are part of it.  Color

will flood the mountain again in the fall, when the rain returns. In Iraq,

when it rains, does this happen? In other countries

the color purple

means other things. Syria

is so far from this mountain it could be in

a different world, if not for planes and the internet. Is this yellow,

the dead of fox gloves, also the shade of Kuwait

as rendered on a map? In

these mountains there have been fires this summer, but always visible the blue

of the bay. Afghanistan—

a country whose name I didn’t know once. In

the past I thought of red

as meaning only one thing. In China it is the color of wedding dresses, in Vietnam

it is the color of the flag. My in-laws visited the mountain from Saigon

when it was still in the green

of summer, the heat bothering us as they piled on sweaters. The

plane took them back there, where there is no war

for now. There is no war here for now. On

a walk up the mountain, I try not to think of the internet,

the way it has tied the map

of this world into bunches, and it is

always possible to find beautiful

foreign wives and smart

people who think just like you do, and

everything seems so easy to navigate through the screen, the distance colorful.



* This poem is a Golden Shovel of Dunya Mikhail's poem "The War in Colors"

Caitlin Thomson is the co-founder of The Poetry Marathon, an international writing event. Her work has appeared in numerous anthologies and literary journals including: The Adroit Journal, Rust + Moth, Barrow Street Journal, and Killer Verse. You can learn more about her writing at