Where I Am From

In this hurly-burly of year-end and holidays, it is nice to take a breath and reflect. Who am I now? With each year and the myriad of experiences it brings, it is good to assess the changes that may have been of consequence. Births, deaths, marriages, jobs, illness can all impact our sense of self. What is at your core and how was it created?

As Sally posted on Wednesday, I also admire Amanda Le Rougetel’s blog What’s My Story from her blogsite, https://fiveyearsawriter.blogspot.com/. I did not rise to Amanda’s challenge to make my story in sixty-five words or less. However, it is a great way to describe yourself by encapsulating your experiences in a short poem. In light of Sally’s post “Who Am I”, I was reminded of a prompt Beth Alvarado gave us in a 2013 writing group.  Write a poem that describes where you are from. (I know, I know – don’t end a sentence with a preposition – cardinal error). In 1998 George Ella Lyon, a Kentucky poet, wrote a book titled Where I Am From that was used as a model in teaching memoir writing. Clues to who you are come directly from your roots and experiences. Those memories are touchstones that reconnect me deeply back to myself in chaotic times, physical or emotional. Each stanza describes places that formed my view of the world, places where I was at home or where I lived tenuously until I could move on, ending in Tucson where I belong. I was born in Kansas, spent summers over many years with grandparents in Colorado, lived forty years in Western Washington, and finally settled in the Southwest that combines the sunshine of Kansas, the mountains of Colorado, and the extraordinary high desert skies. These short phrases packed with images, smells, and sounds tell my story.

Where I Am From

I am from the traveling wind, wide blue skies, and waving wheat

Great-grandma’s raw onions by the supper plate

Great-grandpa’s coffee can spittoon beside his rocker

Refrigerator on the back porch and dirt fruit cellar

Fireflies on summer nights

I am from the deep dark earth, mountain highs

Fishing at Estes Park

Honeysuckle, snapdragons, and putting up the beans

A ringer on the washing machine

Cold fried chicken and white bread with butter and sugar

I am from endless gray skies,

Armies of black-green sentinel firs reaching to the clouds

City of a thousand cultures mingled like succulent odors of stew

The drizzle of cold, the smell of mold

Wind in the sails, islands in the fog

I am from the knife-edged mountain peaks with hidden crevices

That rise from the desert floor

Coyotes howling, javelina prowling

The soul-filling smell of the creosote bush after summer monsoons

The endless blue of sky and translucent flower of prickly pear

This is one of the poems published in our book, Telling Tales and Sharing Secrets; Chapter 4, page 285. I sincerely hope you are creating happy memories with family and friends during this holiday season.

3 thoughts on “Where I Am From

  1. Diana – Thank you for the shout out, and thank you for this post here today. Your ‘Where I am From’ poem is highly evocative. I learned of this poem/prompt activity this summer while I was surfing the ‘net for some reason and I tucked it away into my ‘good things’ writing file. Then I ‘met’ Sally via Brevity Blog last week and now here I am at your post. Sally’s piece last week reminded me of the prompt and I wrote my own response. How lovely for me to have this space to share it with you now. My pattern follows the template I found online; my content is less rooted in landscape and geography than others I have seen, including yours. No matter how a person responds to the prompts, it’s a fascinating exercise in memory and retrieval. Thank you, again.

    I am from cups of tea
    from biscuits and from toast with Marmite.

    I am from the love of family-heart, second born, birth-marked, peace-keeper.

    I am from the earth, solid beneath my feet.
    I am from talking and arguing.
    From Anne and Colin.
    I am from the opinions and noise of family dinner-time conversations,
    from anything you want to be (stated) and I believe in you (implied).

    I am from secular living, and book reading.
    I am from international addresses with roots in England.

    From soft-boiled eggs with soldiers to dunk, and warmed mince pies with brandy butter oozing.

    From the red-haired trio of siblings, colour now fading from its childhood glory.
    The photo albums now held by brother but created by father
    Best memories for me live in my heart.

  2. I love both of these so very much. Only the individual person can express their own places where they are from, the words laid out from heart and feeling. Love, love these so very much!

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