“This Land” by Chloe DeFilippis
On a farm in Lakewood, New Jersey, my father, a little boy, visits his paternal grandparents. They are immigrants, speaking broken English to the family and yelling Italian commands at the dogs. Their land is filled with food: watermelons, peaches, raspberries, blackberries, grapes, peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, herbs, chickens, rabbits, and a goat or two. My father runs throughout this land picking what he can. Blackberries and grapes for his grandfather’s wine. Tomatoes and peaches for his grandmother’s sauces and preserves. He sits on the porch spitting seeds out of fat watermelon slices. He sleeps in the attic under peppers that hang from the ceiling, slowly drying. On this land, my father forgets that at home in Bayonne he is losing to poverty, to his parents’ failing marriage, to his mother’s catatonic state after months of electric shock therapy. On this land, my father no longer lives in observance of all that is rotting, decaying, dying. On this land, his grandparents’ farm, my father becomes of grass and sun, of all that is ripe and alive.
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Chloe DeFilippis Artist Statement: Chloe DeFilippis was born and raised in Bayonne, a tiny blue-collar peninsula in New Jersey, where she currently resides. She graduated from New Jersey City University in January 2015 with a Bachelor’s degree in English/Creative Writing, having completed an honors thesis in memoir. Chloe uses her perspective as the youngest in a six-person, working-class family of Italian- and Polish-American heritage to inform her work. Her poetry and flash nonfiction have been published in the journal Voices in Italian Americana as well as in the e-anthology Olive Grrrls. She was the 2015 recipient of the Walter Glospie Academy of American Poets Prize and is currently the proud moderator of her 100-word writing group, which has been together for two years. When she’s not writing, Chloe is tending to her small vegetable garden.