Poem Challenge

Where Are You From?

Some time ago a Facebook friend*, who is also a follower of this blog, challenged us to write about where we are from. She suggested that we use as a template a poem written by Kentucky’s 2015-2016 poet laureate, George Ella Lyon. 

Where I’m From by George Ella Lyon

I am from clothespins, 

from Clorox and carbon-tetrachloride. 

I am from the dirt under the back 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.

I took the challenge and in a few short moments had no difficulty writing about where I’m from. I’m not a poet, but it was a wonderful exercise in turning memories over in one’s mind. It can also make us contemplate the impact our beginnings had on where we are today. 

Pail-and-dipper

Where I’m From by Sue Mattingly

I am from creek bottoms, 

crawfish, and chiggers. 

I am from an old apple tree,

Under which my rope swing hung.

I am from the hollyhocks 

in my Grandmother’s yard

from which she helped me to 

fashion fancy dolls.

I’m from biscuits and jam, 

      and from a galvanized tub for Saturday baths. 

I’m from water bucket and dipper

          and from the milking parlor down the road, 

from spunk and playing April Fool’s 

Jokes on my Grandfather! 

I’m from “What a Friend We Have in Jesus”

          sung with Pat on the front porch swing

          and Vacation Bible School every summer.

I’m from Crooked Creek and Anderson County

From the front yard so carefully mown by my Dad

using a push mower without a motor

and the four room house Mother kept spic and span.

Against the front fence leaned my brother’s bike

which I sat on and pretended I could ride

when I heard a car coming down the gravel road.

I am from those times —

and yet feel like a foreigner —

when I try to return.

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I challenge you to write your own and I would love it if you shared your poem with us in the comments section here. I look forward to reading and to learning more about your beginnings. Thank you and a special thank you to *Cindi Carmen. 

If you are interested in reading more about Lyon see: http://www.georgeellalyon.com/where.html

4 thoughts on “Poem Challenge

  1. Where I’m from:
    I’m from apricots, white peaches, and prune trees.
    From my grandfather’s ranch, that I loved so much.
    I’m from artichokes, Octopus and Squid.
    I’m from the Pacific Ocean that I love so much!
    Now I’m from here, loving it very much….

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love your poem Auntie… it’s my favorite of all your literary works thus far. I am working on my own version, which I will send to you at some point.

    Liked by 1 person

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