I Am From

I recently completed a writing course with Allison Fallon, one of my favorite writers. I love to write. It allows me to process my thoughts and feelings, gain clarity, heal, and express myself creatively. Our first assignment was to write an “I Am From” poem. I felt a rush of excitement and fear, anticipating the trip I was going to take. Well, a one-day assignment turned into weeks of adding, as I walked through memories of my childhood. Honestly, I think I could have kept adding to the poem for a lifetime. In other words, “I Am From” a lot, inside and out! A lot of messy and a lot magic! Alas, I released perfection and embraced permission. Below is the most recent draft…

I Am From

I am from a long, sandy driveway, a farm on the hill, framed by pastures

Where horses and cows roamed to the rhythm of the train

Where their last breath taken beneath lightening pines

Where rotting trunks and branches, a child’s hideaway held together by hay string

“Be careful, Birdie P!”

I am from yellow walls hidden by large appliances, loud voices drowned by a dishwasher’s drone, a washing machine’s hum, a vacuum cleaner’s wail

Where the lingering smell of Comet, Pledge, and Head & Shoulders wafted

Where an angry three-way party line clicked and groaned

Where peanut butter and Ritz crackers fed “Days of Our Lives”

“Kelly, it’s time for our stories!”

I am from squeaky jalousie windows, adorned by webs ruled by eight-legged kings and queens

Where a fireplace warmed school clothes, popped corn, and children were to be seen and not heard

Where sweaty legs stuck to sheets as dogs barked and trains whistled in the distance

Where a flashlight uncovered the mysteries of puberty on pages

“You sure do talk a lot!”

I am from shelves of trophies, dusted weekly held photos of horses

Where Barbie dolls swam in horse troughs and performed acrobatics on the horse walker

Where horses danced in their stalls as rants, raves, and rakes flew through the air

Where under the bed was safe, retrieved by a grandfather’s gentle coaxing

“Don’t cry”

I am from sandy sheets hiding wet stains on a twin bed lined with stuffed protection, shielded from the scary crack by furry friends

Where scrapes, bruises, bites, and dirt rings protested bathing, or going to bed

Where hair rinsed with rainwater waited for sun tea

Where picking blackberries and shelling pecans created crisps and cobblers and pies

“CW, is the grill ready?!”

I am from cold terrazzo floors and the black hole leading to hell beneath a heater grate

Where reindeer hooves on the roof and red flashing lights announced, “Santa is coming!”

Where muffled laughter up and down the hall teased

Where frightened, tearful, anxious, pleas to “go to bed” went unheeded

“Jesus Jumpin’ Christ”

I am from early morning, afternoon, and evening chores, as the setting sun announced, “I Love Lucy”

Where a John Deere riding lawnmower rode hopes, a three-wheeler carried dreams, a tractor held wishes

Where a thunder storm ended with a trip to fetch the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow

Where quick lukewarm showers sprayed privacy

“What are you doing in there?”

I am from Earth Wind and Fire, The Eagles, Petula Clark, The Association, Helen Reddy, Sgt. Pepper, and Hello Dolly

Where an RCA stereo destined singing, harmony, dancing, and dinner

Where a grandmother performed in her glory

Where a grandfather’s applause ignited a spark

“Boy, she can sure belt it out”

I am from named chickens, dogs, cats, horses, goats, cows, steers, hamsters, gerbils, mice, and guinea pigs

Where a farm pulsed with breeding mares, birthing foals, cleaning out stalls, and breaking yearlings

Where horse shows and races replaced family vacations, yet promised trips to the zoo

Where a far off majestic pine tree served as a pet’s final resting place

“We’ve got to get home to feed the animals”

I am from an easy bake oven, Sun In, baby oil and iodine, and Charlie perfume

Where hair enduring hours in curlers fell straight, legs longed for shaving, and feet dripped with sweat

Where gas bubbles in a tummy was taunted

Where adolescence was mocked

“Looks like all you need are a couple of Band-Aids!”

I am from band competitions, 4-H fairs, Wendy’s, Arthur Treacher’s, and Daytona Beach

Where competition, winning, earning, and sun tans were priority

Where a two-tone Chevy Vega could escape for $5

Where signing out of school, a bikini under clothes, laughed all the way to the beach

“Does your mother know you’re leaving school?”

I am from yelling, arguing, laughing, ignoring, teasing, reacting, defending, and judging

Where opinions of authority were facts, expertise trumped creativity, and forgetting to replace a tool forbidden

Where forgetting to sweep the garage was jolted from an early evening nap

Where running away beneath the canopy of a pecan tree caught

“Son of a Bitch”

I am from baked macaroni and cheese, chili, Great Northern beans on buttered bread, milk, beef and noodles, Watergate salad, blackberry cobbler, hamburgers, and homemade peach ice cream

Where going back for seconds, even thirds, was expected

Where a “Good morning” greeting directed

Where appearance and looks were inspected and remarked

“Those jeans gettin’ a little tight?”

I am from Sunday afternoons with “Tarzan” and Sunday evenings with “The Wonderful World of Disney”

Where a father and daughter shared ice cream and Tang smoothies

Where Burger King Whalers and vanilla shakes made Monday night’s family dinner

Where which cereal to pick at Publix was soothed by Wonder bread balls on the drive home

“Don’t spoil your appetite!”

I am from letters, hugs, kisses, and weekly Sunday phone calls

Where no holiday, birthday, or celebration went without a card and a call

Where crochet, cross-stitch begged outings for yarn and thread, and unexpected gifts

“Love you!”

I am from hard-working, visionary, talented, creative tempers, who pushed, pulled, heaved, fought, persevered

Where softness, slowness, and an ease of acceptance quiets the fight

Where grandiose dreams drifted and faded

Where dress rehearsals ceased

“Love you, Bird!”

 

Writing “I Am From” opened up unanticipated possibilities. The strong emotions that rushed through me as I drafted the poem softened and eased with each revision. I am grateful for the experience. Wading through the messy and magic of our lives creates clarity. For me, clarity creates connections, insights, priceless awareness. Clarity also opens my heart to compassion, for the people in my life and mostly, for me.

So, where are you from?

Comments

  1. Walter Catalan

    Tears down my face when identifying my own “where I’m from”. Good poem Kelli, good work.

    Walter

    1. Kelli

      Awww…my heart is so happy to hear from you, Walter! Many tears fell as I sculpted my poem. My senses came alive, as if I’d been transported back in time. I’m grateful, Walter! 🙂

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