This is a poem I wrote for one of my classes exploring my view of change using the common “I am from” format. I’ve included an audio file because I feel that poetry is more powerful when it’s read aloud. Please feel free to listen while you read.
I am from Pennsylvania farm land,
and the smell of fresh spread manure
sure to burn nostrils
on the school playground
where uniforms marked gender, age, space, time
stood still, moved slowly,
too fast and not fast enough.
I am from mountains
valleys, hills, meadows
toes digging deep into grass and dirt
earth and green spaces that called
to my heart, spirit, lungs, legs
begged me to be free
green spaces that call to me still.
I am from East Baltimore Street
the white house with the pines
behind whose blinds love resided
confided in the strong arms of family
that pulled me in
held me close
hold me still.
I am from playing in the trees, bruised knees
“It’s getting dark come inside please”
her voice made everything all right
despite when it could not
give an answer for why cancer
tried to rob her of her light.
I am from questions
of an eight year old’s fears
tears betraying my façade of strength
as I tried to emulate hers
“Will you die?” “Will you lose your hair?”
I could not bear
the thought of it.
I am from family
and love above all else
from grandmas’ kisses and pappys’ laughter
after family dinners around the table
unable even now to admit
that death comes too quickly
to those we love most.
I am from Mennonite land
of peace and nonresistance
insistence on four-part harmony singing
bringing casseroles and baked goods
and, my goodness, how can a denomination
with foundations of peace
leave my childhood church in shambles.
I am from community
bonded by common threads
of reds and blues and yellow hues
all the bright and dark colors
of seeking, searching, longing
I am from the city
the rumblings of subways and trolleys
all these familiar sounds and sight
seeing people in all their vibrancy
curiosity, diversity, rawness
I am from women
whose bodies were commodities
kept hidden forbidden sin ridden
until that holiest day of days
when she trades in her purity prize
and the guise
I am from contradictions
women who refused to be victims
even when our sacred souls, bleeding
were greedily ripped out,
from between our very legs.
I am from dark places
shoe laces dangling
over a subway platform, canyon,
bridge over a stream
dreaming of jumping
but still afraid to fall.
I am from desperation
from a handful of pills
cold floors, metal doors
and therapists’ offices where
questions like “Now what do you want me to do for you?”
rang hollow in my ears.
I am from acceptance
esteemed in my eyes
sure of my worth
while being grounded
by loving me
he’s free to love me too.
I am from liminal space
somewhere between wounded and whole
Wholly succumbing or coming alive
between inward loathing and outward exploding
between knowing and not
and lusting for home.
I am from love
and all its questions, suggestions, reflections
of what was, what is, and what could be
and that is home
home is love
and there is no other place
I’d rather be from.