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Colorado’s Grand Canyon
Kuo Zhang

Kuo Zhang

When I was 7, Grandma took me to World Park,

the most popular new attraction in Beijing, 1994.


“What a steal! We saw the whole world in one day.

Only cost 20 yuan!” Grandma shouted.


My favorite, Colorado’s Grand Canyon,

stacked red-brown rocks with water

cascading the middle.


It’s the first time we went to Beijing.

I newly attended elementary school,

while Grandma never graduated.

After 4th grade, she did farming,

got married, raised four kids.


We were excited

to squeeze into the people mountain,

snap a photo in front of the waterfall—

me sitting on Grandma’s lap, both smiling. 


One year after Grandma passed away,

I went to World Park again

for pre-wedding photo shoot.

It’s no longer of interest to tourists in 2013.

We spent a whole afternoon taking photos

on the stone path, and the lawn.


Finally, I asked if we could take one

at Colorado’s Grand Canyon.

“It’s fake. Not good for pictures.

Why not go to Colorado to see the real canyon?”


Seven years later, I became a college professor

in Colorado. On top of the steep-walled gorge

carved by the river in millions of years,

I wanted to let my grandma know:


Colorado has many great canyons,

but the Grand Canyon is in Arizona.

Kuo Zhang is a faculty member at Western Colorado University. She has a bilingual book of poetry in Chinese and English, Broadleaves (Shenyang Press). Her poem “One Child Policy” was awarded second place in the 2012 Society for Humanistic Anthropology [SHA] Poetry Competition held by the American Anthropology Association. She served as poetry & arts editor for the Journal of Language & Literacy Education in 2016-2017 and also one of the judges for 2015 & 2016 SHA Poetry Competition. Her poems have appeared in The Roadrunner Review, Lily Poetry Review, Bone Bouquet, K’in, North Dakota Quarterly, Adanna Literary Journal, Raising Mothers, MUTHA Magazine, Journal of Language and Literacy Education, and Anthropology and Humanism.

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