California Poppy

We went to see the poppies that weekend.

You stopped the car, and that moment

When I opened the door, I thought, rot.

The wind was too strong. We got dust in our eyes.

The whole time, the blooms evaded my camera.

I wanted so much for that day to be a revelation.

The vistas would tell me where I had taken the wrong turn.

The whole ride back, we tried to talk about the future.

Better jobs, better cities. As inevitable as the orange,

As the colonies of blooms at impossible altitudes –

And as certain as the smell that seeps into clothing –

We circle back to parents getting old,

Favorite shows to drown out the dark nights.

When the cars outside my window resemble something like a song,

I won’t ask, why can’t I have it.

I’ll let it cut deeper, because I know this is the only way.

There was a moment when we were up high, looking down.

We sat in silence, let the wind ravage our hair.

And then we got up to keep walking,

Followed mothers and their babies, errant children,

As if where they were going held the answer to

How barren fields can suddenly burst aflame,

Defiantly stare up at any god in a blue sky as blank as an eye,

Force each visitor to reckon with a reek that signals

Not ruin but survival.


Hayun Cho resides in Los Angeles where she is pursuing a PhD in Korean literature. Hayun’s poems can be read in The Margins and The Blueshift Journal among others.