“God as an Illinois hops farm” by Anna Girgenti

24 April 2020 on Poetry   Tags: ,

in early July, just before harvest, mud on the frilly white hem
of my sundress. Barefoot. We squeeze the last drops of beer

from the keg — my little brother barely seventeen, my high school
friends, my fifth-grade crush grown up, every neighbor for a mile —

and raise our cups to all that open space.
Field of starlight where vines climb tree- trunk pillars, 

lightning bugs bob like votive candles 
on the open sea. Farther out, my brother

and a few others light fireworks off the back of a Chevy pickup.
We feel the storm coming before the radio tells us. Some things

you just know, like the street you grew up on, like the farmer knows
his field. You know you look just like him, Carla says, and I know

she means my brother. My freckles are his freckles, my fingernails
dirty like his. Why’d I ever try to escape it? They know me ‘round here,

soon as they see the shape of my nose. Out here there’s no shame 
in being known. The first notes of Baba O'Riley start on the stereo,

harmonica trembling, the most American kind of vibrato. My heart
speeds to sync with the drum. My head bobs toward the sky, and I run

like I haven’t since we were kids, farther and farther into the black
expanse, down a hall of hops pillars, in the direction of the wind, 

thrown into nothingness like a baby born in reverse, and whatever
force propels me I don’t know or care. I hear the echo of my brother’s

distant laughter, and I run to it, run until I feel mud 
on my ankles, until I fall on my back and stay like that, 

rain whipping at my thighs, and finally I am 
what I prayed to be as a child every night when I laid in bed: 

a seed nestled safely in the center of a giant palm.

Anna Girgenti is a Midwestern poet and artist living in Chicago, IL. Her work has appeared in Cider Press Review, Midway Journal, and Zone 3 Press (forthcoming in May 2020). In 2018, the University of Iowa published her debut chapbook, "Asking for Directions." 

"Direction" is a silver gelatin print by Julia Forrest, a Brooklyn-based artist. She works strictly in film and prints in a darkroom she built in her apartment. Her own art has always been her top priority in life and in this digital world, she will continue to work with old processing. Julia is currently working as a teaching artist at the Brooklyn Museum, Medgar Evers College, USDAN Art Center, and Lehigh University. As an instructor, she thinks it is important to understand that a person can constantly stretch and push the boundaries of their ideas with whatever medium of art s/he chooses. Her goal is for her audience to not only enjoy learning about photography, but to see the world in an entirely new way and continue to develop a future interest in the arts.

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