Hannah VanderHart


Hannah VanderHart lives in Durham, NC, where she co-runs the Little Corner Poetry Reading Series at Duke University. She has her MFA from George Mason University and is currently at Duke writing her dissertation on collaborative women’s poetry in the Renaissance. She has poetry and reviews published and forthcoming in The Kenyon Review, Poetry Northwest, The Greensboro Review, Thrush Poetry Journal, and elsewhere. Her chapbook, What Pecan Light, is forthcoming from Bull City Press, and she is the Reviews Editor at EcoTheo Review. More at: hannahvanderhart.com


We never owned one. A tractor was something you borrowed from a neighbor whose soy was already leafing the field. My mother started us young in the garden, with a hoe taller than our heads, its wooden handle knocking our ears. My life started as a good weeding, early in the morning, dew still on the beans and spider webs. There was a mist sometimes like a cotton sea. I remember driving home from college, rounding the bend on 95, seeing the John Deere tractors greening the hill above traffic—it lifted my heart every time to see them. In Old Farm, New Farm, a children’s book, the farm starts as a thing more full of holes than not. Puddles spotting the farmyard, the tractor’s seat missing. The harrow’s teeth gone to rust. The farmer milks the cows first, mends the fences. Repairs the greenhouse panes of glass. Knows he can leave the tractor ‘til spring, and knows he can’t live without it. The end of the book is pots of jam and cream.

I grew up on small scale homesteads in rural Virginia and never imagined I would one day write about my home life—it felt so long and ordinary, and full of work (it was). C.D. Wright has been instrumental in pushing me back towards my roots—and the couplet, too, which feels a winnowed enough form for me to sift through memory. Everything in this poem is ‘real,’ down to Old Farm, New Farm, a beloved before-and-after picture book we had on our shelf. This poem is part of my unpublished full-length poetry collection, Larks.