Saturday, June 21, 2008

Where I'm From

Where I'm From
by George Ella Lyons
I am from clothespins,
from Clorox and carbon-tetrachloride.
I am from the dirt under the black porch.
(Black, glistening it tasted like beets.)
I am from the forsythia bush,
the Dutch elmwhose 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.

George Ella Lyons wrote the poem above called, "Where I’m From.” I read it and it made me start thinking about what I would write if I wrote something similar. Now, for sure, I’m no poet; Kristy would have to write it for it to be true poetry. But I do know ‘where I’m from’ and I think I can put it down on paper (computer) and make some sense of it. It’s fun…write you own.

Where I’m From
By Martha Vaughan

I am from Ebenezer community on Highway 276,
By the outhouse and catching my pants on fire in the burning grass.
I am from a butcher knife fanning the air
and being caught in Daddy's hand; thus, a crooked finger for life.
I'm from wringer washers, clothes flapping in the wind,
kerosene stoves, homemade with love quilts and days of no tv.
I am from sandy driveways in the Shiloh community
and bare feet and Mr. Foster’s country store
where we’d buy Pepsi’s, brown mules, and moon pies,
all put on our poor old mama’s “account”
while she was a slave to a sewing machine in a sewing hall.
I’m from black salve, castor oil, Creomulsion, Vicks Vaporub, asafetida and kerosene.
I'm from granuloma knots, blood that "looked like orange kool-aid" and being so skinny that Mama often said, "I'll never raise her."
I am from beagle rabbit hunting dogs
and rabbits as pets that became food on the table.
I am from poison oak so bad that Dr. Coleman
had to give me a shot everyday for two weeks;
I couldn’t go to school so I stayed with Granny while Mama worked
and got to watch "The Guiding Light" and "As the World Turns" and drink coffee!
I’m from carrying water when the well went dry;
and from watching Grandma wash clothes
in a black iron pot over a fire in the backyard.
I'm from riding my bicycle across the yard, not seeing
the clothes line and being "clothes-lined" in the neck.
I’m from trying to burn fiberglas in Grandma’s backyard
that wouldn’t burn because it really IS glass.
I’m from having a dog named Tippy that was deliberately run over
and killed by Larry Ledfort. (name changed to protect the guilty)
I’m from borrowing Grace Cox’s sewing machine, dropping and breaking it and how it hurt me as much to see her cry as it did to see the crack in the machine!
I hail from days spent barefoot, gathering clay from Mr. Burns creek bed with Tony
and then forming it into our “dishes” set out in the sun to dry.
I'm from skating on the concrete screened-in porch, falling
and cracking my tail-bone which hurts to this day as a reminder of "good times."
I’m from Slater-Marietta Elementary School and the teachers, Mrs. McKinney, Mrs. Kerns, Mrs. Cleveland and others who loved me as their own.
I’m from the Bible Society lady who came to school
and gave us a Bible if we’d memorized enough verses.
I’m from pulling Jane Forrest out of bus-line, telling her it was “against the law”
to get back in line, all so she would come home with me from school. She believed me and she did!
I’m from all the days spent waiting up, watching, talking and praying with Mama.
I’m from times spent on our bed with Mama’s prayers rising to heaven on our behalf.
I’m from fireflies, butterflies and honeybees in their hives in our own backyard.
I’m from best friend, Dona, two doors down
and another best friend, Pat, across the street,
who were like ‘other sisters’ when we were growing up.
I’m from a Christian mother who instilled in me
her love of God and made me grow-up to want to be like her.
I’m from getting married at 17 years old and working to help Don finish Clemson.
I’m from Slater-Marietta, Travelers Rest, Clemson, Lake City, Gastonia, Statesville, Elizabethton, Greenville…finally full-circle back to my roots and home.