Back to Issue Thirty-Seven


2021 Gregory Djanikian Scholar in Poetry – Finalist


This is Alliance, Ohio, landlocked, its wheat fields the color
of burnt butter. My father’s father is the town surgeon,
beloved. Those patients who can’t pay him in the evenings
arrive bearing heirloom tomatoes, ears of corn, canned peaches –

grateful patients they call them. The story goes that once
my grandfather grafted skin from a farmer’s scalp onto his thumb
and when the farmer’s thumb grew hair, he braided it, both men
months later in my grandfather’s office, their chuckles wafting out

into the waiting room where my father sat after school.
By the early ‘70s, my father has become a man capable of rebuilding
a waterlogged Jaguar XK150 – of making an abused thing purr.
He takes the Jag on Mulholland, lets it grin, sunset sifting down

onto what used to be orange groves. A joke of ours: once dead,
I’ll tie his hands to the steering wheel, lower him, Jag-and-all, into the dirt,
as he is. By the time the farmer died, his thumb’s plait coiled thrice
his wrist, calendrical, a rudimentary timepiece – or so, from the stories,

I’ve imagined it. My father tells a story: to the hospice nurse,
my grandfather says Stop that or I’ll send you to the back of the room
as if the cramped, barren room, devoid of others, were someplace
else. Just imagine my father says to me. The room of his mind

must’ve been full of all the people from all his life. All my life, I’ve been
able to hear from my room my father in the garage fussing
with the machines: the muffled crank radio, the ratchet of the kickstart
catching the teeth. As a kid, when he wasn’t home, I’d sneak out

to the hushed garage, tiptoeing between the tinging Triumphs and Elefants
and Kawasakis, the Russian Dnepr, the ‘67 Fastback – a medical ward
lined with sleeping patients, healing under the fluorescents, in the din
of a generator, in good hands. In the late ‘50s, in Alliance, Ohio,

my uncle is teaching my father how to recognize the passing cars
by their smiles. Here, the downturned mouth of the Skylark, silver-
jawed, and here, the smirk, baboon-like, of the Oldsmobile,
the Supermini’s pursed lips, the reckless ghoulishness of the Corvair.

Look at us here my grandmother says to my uncle and my father,
by now not boys at all, as – like a gatehouse – they stand
at the foot of the deathbed in which my grandfather
inches towards whatever it is

that isn’t this. Of course, she meant here as in a culmination,
the boys and the fathers, the fathers that have been made
of the boys, and how good it was, how hard.
How good again.


Hannah Perrin King is the winner of The Georgia Review‘s 2020 Loraine Williams Poetry Prize. She is also the winner of Narrative Magazine’s Eleventh Annual Poetry Contest, as well as AWP’s Kurt Brown Prize for Poetry and New Millennium Writings’ 48th New Millennium Award for Poetry. King’s work has appeared in The Adroit Journal, Narrative Magazine, The Missouri Review, The Cincinnati Review, The Georgia Review, North American Review, THRUSH Poetry Journal, and Best New Poets, among others. Her first manuscript is a National Poetry Series Finalist.


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