Elena Andrews

There is a pang of inescapable fear
As I look across the open plains rolling away from me,
Far as the eye can almost see,
A greyness settling heavy above.
It’s a sad fear,
a lonely fear,
One that doesn’t grip but sits low in my belly because
I’m a child again,
In the backseat of my parent’s car in the almost-spring of March,
Watching yellow brown patches amidst
Dirt-stained snow blur past the window
In perpetuity.
It’s dizzying.
I feel sick convincing myself that
I am not that little girl anymore,
I am not,
I am not,
I am not,
I am not and
I am,
As sure as the Iowa fields outside
Will go from bleak scruff to sturdy stalks,
As sure as the dreary ice-rain of the month that
Saw me enter the world will become the delicious warmth of June.

There is a softness outside my window,
I look up and catch a golden glow
Spreading from a break in the endless clouds.
For a moment,
My need for escape,
The fear of being lost in this place,
Is pierced by wonder for the state I call home.
For a moment,
As we crest a gentle hill,
I see beauty in the way the hazy closeness of the sky
Touches the fields on the horizon.

When asked about the inspiration for this piece, Elena said, “This piece came to life on a drive home to central Iowa from Evanston last week. It was a gross, cloudy, rainy day and if you’ve ever driven across Iowa and Illinois, you know that the scenery can be unforgivingly dull and boring even in the best of weather. As I sat in the backseat of our van, watching the rain fall and the world go by, I felt all the familiar and conflicting feelings that I’ve felt about Iowa that have only grown since I’ve gotten older: the feeling of drowning in the ‘open plains’, the need to escape to somewhere more exciting, the urge to find mountains and forests and shore lines, the fear of being stuck, and yet the beauty of the soft rolling hills, and the undeniably deep roots that I have in this state. I was born and raised in Ames, Iowa, have lived there until I started college, and I will forever love it as much as I want to see the world. The girl from Iowa will always be part of me, wherever I go. So this poem explores how love and fear and frustration for a place, for home and the person that home creates, can exist in tandem.”