I guess it says something about me
that the mention American Gothic
has me thinking of the painting
rather than the television series
that I've heard much about,
but never actually watched;
I couldn't tell you if one 
has any connection to the other
except their shared title.
Not that I'm a student of art,
but American Gothic is a classic
that most people recognize
when they see it.
The 1930s farmer holding a pitchfork
and his young wife standing beside him,
looking off to the side 
as if watching kids getting into mischief
and getting ready to bolt,
while thinking she's got too much to do
to stand around having her picture painted.
There's been some speculation
that the woman isn't the farmer's wife,
but his daughter.
If that's the case,
the expression takes on new meaning.
She's still not happy about having to stand around
having her picture painted—that's fairly common,
even today, when you want impatient children
to pose for a photo;
they've got better things to do,
even if it's only scrolling their social media feed.
But the young woman in this painting
is already looking old for her age,
she wants to live and have fun.
Her eyes follow the world racing away
before her while she's rooted to the ground,
tethered by expectations and family ties.
Maybe that's the connection
between the TV show and the painting,
the pain and horror of medieval times
is still with us,
just taking different forms.
The faces and surroundings are different,
but expressions and emotions
remain the same.

(American Gothic is a painting by Grant Wood, circa 1930)

~Elise Skidmore ©2021

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