Thursday, August 14, 2008

Where I'm From

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.


The First Lady said...

Love This!! What a great assignment idea. I've been mentally trying to do a "Where I'm from" and all I can come up with is Arthur cartoons and Dr. Pepper:)

Kim said...

I, too, am from homemade ice cream. Dad would call us into the basement when he was finished churning so we could take turns cleaning the dasher with spoons. It's still a Christmas tradition at my parents' house. I will have my students do this poem in the spring as a part of an identity multigenre, I think. Thanks for sharing! :)