Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Where I'm From
Adapted from George Ella Lyons by Sheila Smith Clay
I am from the water hose on summer afternoons,
from Old Milwaulkee and Vicks VapoRub.
I am from the long, grassy, green hill in front of Mamaw’s.
(It seems so small now that I am not.)
I am from bluegrass and sassafras,
and the mulberry tree,
whose sweet, soft fruit still stains my cheeks and lips.
I am from fresh, fried chicken on Sundays and musty old books,
from Lonzo and James Garfield.
I’m from the guitar-pickers and beer drinkers,
rarely one without the other;
(Why Mama never sent my uneaten food to them, I’ll never know.)
I’m from Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John—
and Aunt Barbara’s…interesting interpretation of the Gospels.
I’m from the Dowell-Roberts line with some Smith thrown in there somewhere—just enough Cherokee to keep a good tan;
from potato candy in the glass hen on the “
drawers” in the hall chester
and sausage gravy like they learned it in the Army.
From the school bus my mother backed into;
the foot most of my ancestors have put in their mouths;
a single, tired, shared brain;
and the horses that have thrown us all at one time or another.
I am from singing the old songs in Mamaw’s living room
and studying the grainy black and white faces
of people I never knew
and who never knew me
but, nonetheless, were the beginning of who I am.