Where I’m From
By George Ella Lyon
I am from clothespins,
from Clorox and carbon-tetrachloride.
I am from the dirt under the back porch.
it tasted like beets.)
I am from the forsythia bush,
the Dutch elm
whose long gone limbs I remember
as if they were my own.
I am from fudge and eyeglasses,
from Imogene and Alafair.
I’m from the know-it-alls
and the pass-it-ons,
from perk up and pipe down.
I’m from He restoreth my soul
with cottonball lamb
and ten verses I can say myself.
I’m from Artemus and Billie’s Branch,
fried corn and strong coffee.
From the finger my grandfather lost
to the auger
the eye my father shut to keep his sight.
Under my bed was a dress box
spilling old pictures.
a sift of lost faces
to drift beneath my dreams.
I am from those moments —
snapped before I budded —
leaf-fall from the family tree
Isn’t it funny what we remember from our childhoods? How we grow and how memories get fixed in our minds like so many different photo clippings? If people ask me where I’m from, I give a series of different answers. Ranging from locations to a base statement that I am from nowhere in particular.
But I am from somewhere.
I am from my mother’s house, where all the spoons are in the same drawer, even if the house has changed fifteen times. I’m from the built-in desk, even when it was no longer built-in to anywhere. I am from making the house feel like home so that we can be more comfortable when we get there.
I am from wake up on Sundays to hear what dad has to say. And later, after I understood more, wake up on Sundays to hear what the Spirit has to say through dad.
I am from Ellen Hannafords and Marilyn Alexanders. I am from tearing down and building up. I am from learning the next place we’ll live on my birthday, and keeping the secret until mother’s day. I am from staying another place twice as long as anyone expected.
I am from church potlucks, and unbearable cuteness. I am from games of hide-and-seek played in my backyard, because it was the same as the church’s. I am from sand gnats and crocodiles. I am from making up our own games like drop the stone into the mud when the tide’s out and watch it squlurp.
I am from night skies. I am from watching the moon eclipse on the beach because it was the best place to do it. I am from finding our own memories and watching the tide come in. Saving beach blankets of strangers who didn’t know our water, thought it was safe like the gulf.
I am from kites and sand shovels.
Brief flights and buildings that will wash away in the next wave.
But while we can, we’ll soar and flit and fly, daring the wind and waves to catch us. We’ll stand tall and proud, but still humble enough to be changed.