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Sunday, March 18, 2007

Where I'm From


Where I'm From
by George Ella Lyons

I am from clothespins,
from Clorox and carbon-tetrachloride.
I am from the dirt under the black porch.
(Black, glistening
it tasted like beets.)
I am from the forsythia bush,
the Dutch elm
whose long gone limbs I remember
as if they were my own.
I'm from fudge and eyeglasses,
from Imogene and Alafair.
I'm from the know-it-alls
and the pass-it-ons,
from perk up and pipe down.
I'm from He restoreth my soul
with a cottonball lamb
and ten verses I can say myself.
I'm from Artemus and Billie's Branch,
fried corn and strong coffee.
From the finger my grandfather lost
to the auger
the eye my father shut to keep his sight.
Under my bed was a dress box
spilling old pictures,
a sift of lost faces
to drift beneath my dreams.
I am from those moments-
snapped before I budded-
leaf-fall from the family tree.


Where I'm From

I am from Sonic drinks with plastic animals on the cups, from Sweet & Low, salt and pepper, and Campho-Phenique on Grandma’s kitchen table.

I am from wet, red washcloths applied soothingly to scraped knees or cut fingers.

I am from books, books and more books, since I was four years old. Nancy Drew, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Lord of the Flies and Reader’s Digest Condensed Books.

I am from notebooks and journals and scraps of paper filled with lines of poetry.

I am from reading in the corner, in the fork of a tree, and on the couch for hours on end.

I am from “How to Win Friends and Influence People”, with Mimi’s notes scribbled in almost every margin.

I am from the power of words in Mom’s big blue dictionary and her red encyclopedias.

I am from Skip-Bo with Mimi, Canasta with Grandma, Spades with Dad and 42 Dominoes with four generations.

I am from weekends with Dad, scrambled eggs, Kung Fu, and Billy Joel.

I am from Saturday morning garage sale bargains, Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids and Schoolhouse Rock.

I am from weekly allowances for Chick-O-Sticks, Lik-A-Stiks and Pixi Stix.

I am from “Twist me and turn me and show me the elf; I looked in the water and saw myself.” From Brownie Wings, and the Girl Scout Promise and Camp-Wah-Shah-She.

I am from Dukes of Hazzard every Friday night, trips to The Dock and fishing from the bed.

I am from Willie Nelson’s Red Headed Stranger on the record player, and the tick of the ten-minute-kitchen timer on the phone with my friends.

I am from the vibration of a table saw and sawdust in my nose, my mouth, my hair.

I am from Avon boxes stacked on the kitchen table, Skin-So-Soft summers, Emaraude, Mesmerize and Brut in the Green Bottle.

I am from macaroni with tomatoes, sauerkraut with weenies, chicken-chow-mein, and cornbread crumbled in milk, or in peanut butter and syrup.

I am from Grandpa’s peanut brittle, Aunt Ann’s enchiladas, Mimi’s coconut pies, Mama’s coffee, and tomatoes and cucumbers from Grandpa’s garden.

I am from the bowling alleys, the Century 21 office, and the shadow of the Old Phillips Tower.

I am from the church bus, Bible quiz trophies, youth group game nights and Silver State Youth Camp.

I am from Mimi’s favorites, Amazing Grace and Romans 8:38-39; from learning harmony out of the blue and red songbooks, walking the aisle to Just As I Am, and standing on the platform singing Beulah Land.

I am from speech class, drama class, tournaments and state competition trophies, slamming lockers, X-Men comic books, mushroom soup jokes, five-minute bells and notes passed in the hallway.

I am from “Just wait till I finish my cigarette”, “I’ll tell you what”, “Don’t Say Me That”, and “Well!”. From “The Gettin’ Place”, “a million little ignorants” and "I got-for".

I am from handmade matching dresses, grandpa’s tattoos, and the story of the monkey who spanked himself. From bathrooms with “Desiderata” hanging on the wall, from keeping your word and remembering where you came from.

I am from a family where ‘step-father’ and ‘half-brother’ were words we didn’t hear, from holidays and family reunions, something bigger than me --- bigger than us all.

I am from Texas pride, alive and well in Oklahoma. From facing each new decade with determination and a dream, from speaking your mind and knowing where you stand.

I am from Mimi’s arms, Daddy’s hands and Mama’s heart. I am from family.


Deena said...

sitting in awe...that rocked!

I think I want to try that...

Ellen B. said...

I loved that, I might have to try it, too.

kardel said...

How wonderful. I saw this a while back and I want to do it, but it seems too big. I guess I'm still thinking of where I'm from.

Jennifer said...

Oh, me too me too-from Skip Bo, and 42, and Spades and Texas, and Mimi, too.

Deena said...

Wandered back over here to read this again...just sitting here, bawling...remembering my mom and dad...

kathy said...

Great post! Mine's at my former blog - http://kcozonac.blogspot.com/2007/01/where-im-from.html

I love yours! I'm so with you on Schoolhouse Rock and the Dukes of Hazard!

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