My writer friend Alyson Shelton invited her Instagram followers to share poems created from the prompt, “Where I’m From,” based on George Ella Lyon’s poem with that title. I read mine live on Instagram as part of her weekly series, and I’m sharing the text below. You can also watch a recording here. Check out the others in the series too. They are so evocative of places and people.
It was fun to write! In the process, I meandered through the years before and just after my mom died — aka the 1960s and early 70s! That’s where I’m from at heart, or maybe where I most want to be from. Other life stages would elicit different poems. Where are you from? Check out the prompt below! Feel free to send me your writing if you’d like. Or submit it here.
Where I’m From
I am from cartoons on Saturday morning,
from Oreos dipped in milk and
Campbell’s chicken noodle soup heated in the copper-bottomed pot
then slurped from the spoon.
I am from the house with brown pillars that reach for the sky.
From the weeping willow tree whose branches, like feathers,
dangle to the ground,
from the ever-present absence that my mom’s death left behind.
I am from coloring books and 24 Crayola shades that never felt like enough,
from pining for the box of 64 that came with its own sharpener.
From Barbie dolls and Nancy Drew,
from Charlotte’s Web and Little House on the Prairie,
from Easy Bake Oven and the Game of Life.
I always went to college and chose a sensible career.
I am from grief unspoken, from so many things not said,
from “GOD DAMMIT!” yelled up the stairs, and Al’s fist
pounding the kitchen counter.
I am from the rosary, from Mary Lee’s blue beads and Julia’s black prayer book.
From hard wooden pews, black lace veils, and nausea-inducing incense.
From, “We’re not laughing at you, we’re laughing with you.”
And, “But I’m not laughing.”
I am from the upstairs living room in the house with no basement.
Is this why I struggle to feel normal?
I am from the apple tree in the side yard,
held in its embrace, nourished by sour fruit transformed to sweet sauce.