Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Where I'm from 

Fred has a great idea going at the moment, a little project in which anyone can take part. I’ll let him describe it:
"George Ella Lyons is an Appalachian author and poet with a long list of children's books to her credit. Her poem, Where I'm From, begins in this way: I am from clothespins, from Clorox and carbon-tetrachloride. I am from the dirt under the black porch. (Black, glistening it tasted like beets.)

Each of us is from a place that is more than a dot on the map. Every experience that we can recall has left its mark on who we are. Nobody is from Clorox, but can't you smell the laundry room at the poet's house as a little girl?

I'd like to make a suggestion-- not just to the 'writers' who read this, but to everyone. Actually, putting on my teacher hat: this is your assignment --
Read Where I From, all of the poem is here.

Then, write your own version-- where you're from. Here's the format, the remainder of the form is in the "continue reading" section if you want to try this worthwhile exercise. Cut and paste it into a word processor to work on later. (This is a borrowed idea, not mine, but worthwhile, I think, and meant to be passed along.)"

Fred's full post, along with the template, is here

I had a lot of fun doing this; more than that, even something apparently as simple as this (simple in concept anyway, though maybe not in execution!) remakes some of those old synaptic connections and reminds us about a little bit of who we are.

Here’s my version:

I am from modelling knife,
from Airfix* and polystyrene cement.
I am from radiogram music, wavering and crackly.
I am from the tree-house in the giant apple tree,
the sycamore over the fence whose helicopters spawned a thousand offspring in the lawn.
I am from Sunday Best and stammering,
from Peter and Margaret
and Laddie the collie-cross
(and from Frisky, my Very Own black-and-white mouse).
I am from deference
and make-do-and-mend,
from please-and-thank-you,
and “ugh, kissing, that’s mushy”.
I am from no games on Sundays,
Sunday School prizes (always a ‘suitable’ book).
I'm from a midwife’s cycle tracks in the deep snow of a February morning,
wafer-thin sandwiches and roast lamb.
From the late night my father worked at the bank searching for sixpence,
the ink I spilled on my sister’s homework,
and the grandfathers I never knew.
I am from the WWII gas masks hanging behind the coats,
the delicately balanced mosaic of tins, jars and boxes holding screws, nails and rusting tools,
the bureau of neatly archived paperwork, annotated in fine script.
Fears, fittings, facts,
already fossils from an earlier age.

*Airfix was a UK brand of plastic model construction kit.

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