Where I’m From
I am from the never-ending pile of laundry,
from Pepsi and
moving every year as a child.
I am from the shitty blue trailor with no storage space,
faster than we can fix.
It will be ground to dust in the best lot of the park
before the mortgage is paid off.
I am from the wandering jew, roses, and
sweetgrass (the spirit of kindness) …
from dogwood trees, daffodils,
and fresh picked blueberries.
I am from opening one present on Christmas Eve and alcoholism on both sides,
from Eden and Ivy and Gertrude Olive.
I am from heart disease and obesity,
from “going to the store” at family reunions which,
in my family, means
“Let’s go smoke a bowl”.
From “Mandy, you need to lose some weight” and “Pick up your feet when you walk”,
“Don’t scrape your teeth on the fork” and “That’s not how you do dishes”,
from “That’s not how you draw trees”, and,
“Don’t breathe so loud.”
I am from Christianity without the damnation, from trying to live the Jesus example.
I am from a place where there is a heaven but I don’t believe in hell.
The Unity Center has a band, complete with guitar, bass, drums, and piano,
where I heard The Lord’s Prayer put to music and it filled my soul
the first time I visited, so much that I thought I would cry
right there in the sanctuary.
We call ourselves Unitics, but no,
it’s not the same as Unitarian.
I’m from Davenport, Iowa,
but I consider myself from Illinois -- even though I’ve lived most my life in North Carolina.
I’m from the Irish and the Mexicans, with a dash of Cree;
my dad called me a mutt.
I’m from Grandma’s cinnamon rolls, made especially for when I came to visit,
with holes in the middle where Uncle Mike would stick his thumb into each one.
I’m from a nice fatty ribeye, medium rare,
just like Daddy eats them…
From the time me and Cole climbed to the roof of the old school
and got brought home by the sheriff on Christmas day.
I was just visiting, and he asked my name
but looked at Cole and said, “I know you.” When he radioed it in,
the sheriff said, “I’m going over to Grandma McDivitt’s.”
We were fourteen,
pretending to warm our gloved hands, but really hiding our laughter…
I’m from uncles who get hit by trains (twice),
and uncles who lose their eyebrows burning down the family home because Grandma and Papa can’t afford the demolition costs,
from a family where it’s tradition to jump off the Lyndon bridge,
where Tina and Cole tried to get me to do it too,
but come on guys, it’s called the Rock River for a reason…
I’m from Grandpa Joe, who gave those sugared orange candies in exchange for hugs,
and Papa, who tried the same with money.
But both of them would give them to me even without hugs,
since I was deathly afraid of men until I was seven.
By then it was too late.
I am from cheap red photo albums in the corner of the bathroom, since there’s no room for them anywhere else…from a Pepsi box full of photos on top of the fridge…from a momento box (ok, it’s really an old pencil box) in the closet, where I collected something from every boy I liked all through school. I’m from a red heart Andes Mint tin filled with old love letters, and a shoebox filled with letters from my cousin.