I’ve heard it been said that if you don’t know where you’re from, you’ll have a hard time knowing where you are going. This very idea helps us to think about our roots as we begin to know our place in the world. A few years ago I was introduced to George Ella Lyons poem called “Where I’m From.” I loved this poem and began writing my own “Where I’m From” each year. Today, I use it as a writing assignment for my students and hope it lends itself to a wonderful exploration of their past and sense of belonging in this world.
Click here to listen to George Ella Lyon read "Where I'm From."
My Where I'm From
I am from metal lunch boxes,
From Estee Lauder perfume on the bathroom counter, and tacos for dinner.
I am from the back yard swing set
A splintered redwood deck
A dusty ball court
A place to wash cars in the summer.
I am from heart-leaf philodendrons watered every Saturday,
The old English rose bush whose blooms clung to the bay window peeking inside.
I am from breakfast on Christmas morning.
And being resourceful.
From Susanne Mae and Geraldine and Grandpa J.
I am from workaholics and gardeners
From family men and weekends at the lake.
From “never say I told you so” and “kiss me goodnight.”
I am from church—twice on Sunday,
and Wednesday night bible class.
From Jordan’s Stormy Banks and Canaan’s Land.
I am from Brush Arbor singing and Dinner on the Grounds.
From Springfield, Missouri and Pennsylvania Dutch.
I am from homemade ice cream and Granny’s “Half as Much” pie crust.
Red-eye gravy and Springfield Cashew Chicken.
From dad, skipping class to shoot buckets,
and mom, changing into mini-skirts at the bus stop,
and the two of them stealing kisses in the ’55 Chevy two-door hardtop.
I am from the picture box, bursting at the seams,
old and sturdy,
that makes us laugh on Christmas eve.