I am From
I am from notebooks,
from pages of lists and scribbled creativity.
I am from the triple pane windows that invited light inside our home,
allowing each season’s beauty to be visible and admired).
I am from the bluegrass outside My Old Kentucky Home
the weeping willow
whose branches drooped over the backyard corner
like a stage curtain I could hide behind when I needed a break from the world.
I’m from Grohmans Lane and Willow Grove Circle,
from the Musik Express at Adventureland and fireworks on the Belvedere.
I’m from cardboard boxes and moving trucks,
from friends who became penpals before fading into memories.
I’m from bowling alleys and swimming pools,
from seven fishes and Derby pie,
and the loyal fans of the Big Blue Nation.
I’m from Sunday phone calls with grandparents and eating in restaurants more than my kitchen,
from “make your bed” and “get off the rug,”
and oldies that blared from the station wagon’s radio.
I’m from “Grandpa George went up to heaven” and learning life is filled with sadness,
from the actuary who helped me solve equations
and the matriarch who put a Christmas tree in every room of the house.
I’m from morning devotions in homeroom and prayer circles before lunch,
holding hands with the same kids who made jokes at my expense.
I am from pneumonia, braces, and weekly allergy shots,
from ‘dumbing down” my intelligence so nobody dared call me smart,
my happiest moments and greatest fears.
I’m from the ongoing cycle of weight gain and weight loss,
from Clearasil and acne and a series of bad haircuts,
the scars that stain my face and the words that stab my heart.
I’m from disappointment and rejection,
from being at the right place, but at the wrong time,
then losing my confidence and feeling defeated,
and settling for a prize far beneath my worth.
Inside my thoughts, these moments reside,
a collection of puzzle pieces,
that when assembled together, reveal the portrait of my reflection.
Whether the source of my laughter,
or the root of my tears,
I am my experiences.
I am my memories.
I Am From
I am from broken plates
From dusty Longaberger baskets to Goya Adobo seasonings
I am from the off ramp of the busiest street
Where you can taste the ambition
And feel the sadness while walking along
The broken bottle streets
I am from the aloe vera plant
That lays so fair and gentle
On my mother’s bay window
But if you get close
The thorns pinch you so quick
You don’t time to react
I’m from Garis family reunions and unexpected phone calls
From Retha and Balbina
I’m from the yellers and drinkers
From “You are my precious princess” and “You are not mine”
I’m from church choir practice every Monday Night
Where the only more out of tune voice than mine
Were the confessions being whispered
I’m from Providence Rhode Island
With a mix of Souderton and Praia
Sunday dinners of roast and potatoes
From the grandfather who jumped
In the lake and never came out
To the grandmother who sang
And made food for anyone who
Came on her doorstep
I am from two broken
Plates that have made me whole
I am from
Where I’m From
By Jill Lynne Ness
I am from Kraft Mac and Cheese,
from Kenmore washers and Clorox.
I am from Hamburger helper,
from clean, smoothed sheets, and always paired socks.
I am from the wooly bear caterpillar,
from the solid oak tree,
I am from Minnesota winters frozen solid,
from the moth that was set free.
I am from Ness and Schneider,
from checkers and the it’s not fairs.
I am from it’s boys against the girls,
from board games, and see if I cares.
I am from lefse and søtsuppe,
from Shirley and Clayt.
I am from potlucks in church basements,
from casseroles and homemade cake.
I am from the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit,
from the Sermon on the Mount.
I am from the Gospel According to St. James,
from more Lutherans than you can count.
I am from Bisquick and Mrs. Butterworth,
from Violet and Cliff.
I am from hymns on the organ,
from 80’s mix tapes and a solo guitar riff.
I am from Anne Dudley and Governor Bradstreet,
from poets and musical ears.
I am from Salem witches and numerous politicians,
from the shampoo with no tears.
I am from skeletons in the closet,
from family black sheep.
I am from story tellers and song writers,
from the memories that they keep.
I am the wooly bear caterpillar,
my cocoon woven of the memories to which I belong.
In spring, I emerge with wings and a beating heart,
Encompassing all that I come from.