Last year I sat in on a lecture where the instructor had each student write a poem based off of George Ella Lyons “Where I’m From.” Each individual had to write about her or his identity and particularly reflect how identity is shaped by place and experience. Rather than be bored for twenty minutes, I took part in the exercise. Below is the poem that formed out of that exercise. Since I just spent the weekend in my hometown, it seems like a good time to post the poem. Enjoy.
Buckeye, Bleachers and Cabbage Patch Kids
I am from buckeyes,
from chlorine and bleachers.
I am from the two-story white colonial
with black shutters and a red blue door.
I am from the flower beds circling the white picket fence,
the suburban lawns of the capital city.
I am from Ghost in the Graveyard
and bedtime stories of our native ancestors,
from Carl and Betty, deceased too soon
and Harry and Mariann, mid eighties,
living arthritically but fully.
I am from the funny, athletic, Christian family,
from adolescent bullies and forced apologies.
From the eye-rolling “you are such a drama queen,”
and the respectable “best actress, senior class 1998.”
I am from the soft mauve carpet of childhood faith,
one of the wandering in the dessert of desperation,
from the bedrock of one holy Catholic family.
I am from Worthington and the stage
and homemade spaghetti sauce on squishy pasta.
From the cousins who steal cookies after bedtime,
the brother who became, finally, a friend,
and the singing dinner table.
I am from Hickory Ridge Lane.
The lines in my father’s hands like roadmaps
I have yet to explore.
My mother’s mountain of purses like expectations
I may not summit.
I am from the dream of being the best Little Mermaid.
I am from the belief that imagination raises good questions and
cabbage patch kids.