Where I’m From

I’ve been reading a book called Being the Change by Sara K. Ahmed.  I’m following the lead of several of my colleagues who’ve been studying the book in an online professional development group.  In the first chapter, the author encourages teachers to try out the lessons for themselves before introducing them to students.  I tried an Identity Web and I wrote about my name.  This morning I’ve tried my own version of George Ella Lyon’s poem, “Where I’m From.”   It’s a work in progress, of course, but I can also see how it’s helping me reflect on how I became me.

Where I’m From
(Inspired by George Ella Lyon and Sara K Ahmed)

I’m from an Aryan Swede and a New York Jew,
I’m from hard bread and liver glop,
I’m from tack för maten and oy gevalt.
I’m a mutt.

I’m from a chewed-up ball
From the oil-stained drive,
A George Street treasure
From the man upstairs.

I’m from a Mimosa tree at the top of a hill,
the crestwood we climbed
with feathered leaves  
and cotton candy blooms.

I’m from MLK and RFK,
I’m from the hope
and the hate
of 1968.

I’m from piano lessons avoided for baseball in the street.
I’m from shagging flies in center field,  
I’m from Mickey Mantle and Manny Machado,
I’m from rooting hard for underdogs.

I’m from traipsing up trails with Deep Woods Off,
Tripping on roots and gasping for air,
I’m from filling canteens in a mountain stream, then
Spreading arms wide on a rocky peak.

I’m from a date at a diner,
And artichoke feasts.
I’m from adoption angels
And bed-rest miracles.

I’m from Hazel the housekeeper
And Hazel of the Down,
I’m from Winnie Foster’s choice
And Jack Will’s second chance.

I’m from out of sight,
Out of mind, yet
I’m from places I’ve left
But refuse to leave behind.

I’m from losing a child,
I’m from butterfly sightings,
I’m from night-long talks,
And Out of the Darkness walks.

I’m from scratching the ears
Of another aging mutt,
Who shows me how
To carry on.

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10 thoughts on “Where I’m From

  1. I love this. I’m so glad you’re reading the book. I just finished and can’t wait to share ideas with someone from school! I think there is so much power and potential. I’m excited to chat more!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, your responses are why I’m reading the book (even though I’m now in the middle of three books, which is not my style!!). I’m really liking it, and my Sarah has helped me with the pronunciation of Sara, since she had a friend by the same name at college (also of Indian descent).

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      1. I have more than one going at the same time too- also not my style. You’ll have to help me with the Sara pronunciation. I’ve been wondering about that.

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  2. Your mutt bookends in this slice is perfect. Two of my three have written WIF pieces in the past – they are two of my favorite pieces. Yours is journey of your life – each stanza a pause in the years. Thanks for sharing – as always! (true confession, I started Being the Change but fiction reading seems to have taken over my summer-I’ll get back to it with your thoughts lingering as I read!)

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  3. Where I’m From pieces are the best ways to get to know someone. I learned about the words you heard as a child to the fact that you’ve lost a child, which is a huge burden to bear. Thanks for sharing the lighter sides (oy gavalt and those beautiful trees) to the heavier things (1968) you’ve experienced.

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  4. I’m reading Being the Change, too (or I was before I started driving all over kingdom come, and I plan to continue when I get back – tomorrow!!). I love your Where I’m From – it’s powerful and, for me, demonstrates the power of this to get to know people. I have read these before, but maybe because I know you only from your blog, this adds depth, provides questions, makes you more solid than you were before. Perhaps that is part of the magic of the form. Thanks for sharing of yourself.

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  5. Being the Change is in my list and you just proved to me again that I want to read it.

    Your poem is great. I really like the 3rd to last stanza. I feel like that stanza could be about myself too and you say it so beautifully. I loved learning more about you in this poem.

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    1. Yeah, I struggled with that stanza because it’s sort of a contradiction I see in myself, that I don’t really manage to keep in touch with friends after I move or they move, especially ones who moved pre-facebook, but I still feel attached to the places I came from.

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