As I mentioned in an earlier post, Carol Henderson did a workshop a few weeks ago on "Those Who Shape Us." We wrote for ten minutes using as a prompt a poem by George Ella Lyon entitled, "Where I'm From."
I'd like to share what I wrote and invite you to write a few lines in the comment section about where you're from.
I am from the neighborhood that had the bomb shelter. It was concrete with shelves full of cardboard pictures of food. It was a place where the family who bought it would go when the rest of us got nuked by the Cubans and their missiles. Our crisis.
I am from the warehouse family where there were cardboard figures—the Jolly Green Giant and Tony the Tiger—figures that we would beg to take home when my dad took us to his office on Saturdays so my mom wouldn’t end up in “Dix Hill.”
I am from wood: wooden boats that my great-grandfather gave his fingers for; frames with dogwoods carved by my grandfather; the woods too—way back in the filtered sunlight where we crossed over dead wood, careful of snakes. Stepped on the log not over it. I still do that today.
I am from women, three generations of women with only a man or two thrown in for good measure. I am from mother and aunts and sisters and daughters. Weak women who died early and strong women who could take me out with a look. Granny. That look.
I am from cities with an innate longing for country, for woods and for food not in cardboard boxes and for porches that overlook ponds black as ink where frogs belch into the night and birds make their morning song. I am from a time when I lived in the country and missed the city conveniences.
I am from walking to school with friends, riding the bus with sixteen-year-old bus drivers, drinking and smoking on the country club golf course, home-made prom dresses, and the Sears Employee Store.
I am from Christmases with five children who woke up at dawn, from tiny bedrooms and a big basement, from 6:00 dinner and 11:00 curfews. Our house was “Grand Central Station” my mom would say, which meant nothing to me then.
I am from a time when we all felt safe except from Cubans and their missiles and snakes.