The Potato Gatherers
Hoag Holmgren
Holmgren Page 1

A boy and his grandmother digging up potatoes. Fisted, worm-rich southern Pennsylvanian soil. In no way do they resemble Amarya Indians whose frost-dried chuños could be stored for years, who cultivated over 200 varieties of potatoes twelve hundred years ago on the Titicaca Plateau in the Andes. They are not at all like Irish peasants before, during, or after the Great Potato Famine. Or slaves in Virginia on one of the potato plantations of Sir Walter Raleigh. Even if their clothes were torn, their faces full of romanticized nobility, they would not resemble two serfs gathering potatoes in a painting by Jules Bastien-Lepage. No, they joke about the worms and the cat poop and the grape-sized potatoes you never see in a store and I laugh as I watch them from a distance, my hands clean. Beneath our feet, human skulls peer up, astonished.

Hoag Holmgren's short stories, prose poems, and essays have appeared in numerous literary magazines and reviews. His short films have been official selections in film festivals in the U.S. and abroad.