Posts Tagged ‘home’


Property Line, Athens, Ohio © Jim Korpi

“Why is it some of the older men we know seem grumpy and some just happy to be alive?” I ask a friend in the shade of the kitchen.
It’s painfully hot outside and the air damp.
His skin is speckled with hay stuck to his face and bare arms, and his hair resembles a bird’s nest. His shirt is plastered to his chest as if he swam with it on.
The loft in the barn is now full and ready for the coming winter.
He takes a minute to think and swallow a quart jar of water.
“I think it’s just what they did for a living. Some people had it easy, some hard.”


Tourists in Fountain, Milan, Italy © Jim Korpi

After seven months I still flick the middle switch in the hallway and realize it turns on nothing, and that the one on the left turns on the bathroom light.
After seven months I still stand in the shower for the first two minutes either tense from the cold water or from avoiding the scalding hot as I adjust the handle to 7 o’clock and pull it halfway out.
I should know this by now, but for some reason it has taken my brain this long to adjust to a new place.
Every new hotel I visit or friend’s house I intrude on, I stumble in the dark to find a light switch and panic from the half-asleep feeling of being blind and lost.


Uncle Frank, Chichester, New Hampshire © Jim Korpi

To witness the tears of a grown man is like seeing a nocturnal bird of prey in daylight, someone forced it into a world it has evolved to avoid.
One of the earliest memories I have of life on the farm in New Hampshire was the first evening we drove up the long driveway. The warm yellow light from life in the kitchen spilled onto the wood porch, poured into the lawn and was a beacon in the blue dusk.
The grandfather, I was to know as Dubba, and his oldest son, Uncle Frank, sat in chairs by the wood-fired cook stove with guitars resting on their laps. They were cheerful and loose with words. “My ding-a-ling, your ding-a-ling, won’t you play with my ding-a-ling,” Uncle Frank bellowed and strummed.
A year ago my younger brother celebrated his marriage at the old farmhouse. It was the first time most of the family had been back on the property since we left it.
The wedding ceremony finished and guests filed into the old barn for the next stage of the event.
Uncle Frank walked with his drink to the western edge of what was once the farmhouse garden but was now a manicured ornamental bush bordering the wedding altar.
“I fuckin’ miss this place,” he said softly after I sat beside him. We sat quiet. I agreed without words. I somehow missed it too. A tear made its way from the sadness of his eyes down his nose. I made this portrait of him.
Uncle Frank died one week ago. His funeral is today. I am an ocean away, but here I am remembering him.

Welcoming Committee


High Water Prayer, Po River, Italy © Jim Korpi

“Welcome to the country,” my closest neighbor Mr. Cooley said as a silver dollar-sized piece of skin on my left hand sizzled on the exhaust of the lawn mower he was trying to convince me to buy. Prior to this sales pitch, he pointed out how important it was to keep the property mowed.
Another neighbor pulled up our dirt driveway on his Harley Davidson, complete with saddle bags, the modern cowboy.
“If you don’t mow you’ll have to worry about these,” he warned as he pulled a quart-sized mason jar from his brown leather saddle bag and handed it to me. Coiled at the bottom of the transparent trap was the golden body of a young copperhead snake whose head was perched high and eyes were following every movement that surrounded him. “I keep a few of these in my freezer.”
From the front porch I watch as the yellow finches land on the seed heads of waist-high grass and balance themselves in the sway of their weight and the wind. They peck at the grass between their feet like a hungry farmer at a warm ear of corn. At dusk the pale grass comes alive with the flashing of a civilization of fireflies.

The Beaten Path


Ice Cream in Desert, Bahrain © Jim Korpi

The first place they stopped was the first place their Lonely Planet guide suggested they eat with their budget. Simon searched his smart phone for a walking map to the restaurant while Barb read the address from the book.
They wanted authentic food, something off the beaten path. They had travelled all over the world and used their guidebooks to get to where they needed to sleep, eat, and to all the places they needed to see.
The street was lined with vendors selling souvenirs closely related to the geography, but often not. There were soccer jerseys for teams throughout Europe and colorful postcards of landscapes far from this street.
At the restaurant they recognized three couples from the hostel where they were staying. Their guidebook suggested a hostel it considered “clean and cheap.”
During dinner Simon and Barb planned their itinerary for the next day. Their hope was to see something different, something off the beaten path.
The gondola ride they took to the top of the mountain was something the guidebook said could not be missed. If they got there during lunch hours they were told they would avoid the long lines.
They had their tickets after waiting 15 minutes in a line. While boarding the back of the crowded gondola they recognized the same three couples from the restaurant the night before.