I am from doughboy pools and homemade Barbie houses
from Huffy bikes and Helms Bakery donuts.
I am from three sisters to a room and broad green bermuda lawns.
I am from bright sandy beaches and weeping willows
whose drooping green sheltered me from California’s sun.
I am from Coppertone and Sun-In
from Helen and Wes and John.
I am from belting out a tune and scribbling in the dark
from roller skating and tree-fort-building
from fighting at the top of my lungs and finding quiet at any cost.
I am from Bible stories with Mrs. Cluck and anywhere-you-can-take-5-kids-on-a-Sunday.
I am from the Hebjums and Lindseys, a Best at heart with an adopted name
from porkchops and sauerkraut, applesauce and meatloaf
from a father two generations back that made a grown girl flee
and a mother who lived chasing beauty wherever she could find it, rich or poor.
But mostly poor.
I am from luaus and carnivals, beach trips and berry-picking
babysitting and in charge at age 12 and hiding with a book to make it all go away.
I am from those moments of running, singing, writing, hiding, lying in the sun
but never far from the watchful eye of an invisible Father
held in arms more real than scratchy lawns and doughboy pools and donuts and
A Father more present than my own skin, closer than the sunshine on my bright brown hair.
Lover of my soul who was there every meandering minute, keeping time until I came home.
In November of 2017 I had the privilege of participating in a gathering called “What’s Your Story? Discovering the Gift of Hearing and Telling our Stories.” Guest speakers were Cornelia Seigneur, founder and director of the Faith and Culture Writer’s Conference, and Velynn Brown, mentor and speaker. They are both from the Portland area.
I’m grateful to Velynn for sharing her “I Am From” poem with us and modeling how to write our own. The original form and idea comes from George Ella Lyon, writer and teacher. If you’d like to write an “I Am From,” there are resources and examples on Georgia’s website. Mr. Google can also oblige.
There is no statute of limitations on vision.
My old eyes register a darting messenger of
God’s blatant, creative joy. Watch the winged
creation hover in a web of air.
Spy a sleuthing intruder
snap-tapping its way
across the wood, tunneling
away and down the outside stairs.
No expiration (yet) for hearing,
cataloguing birdvoice and the
chipclacking of breakfast
at the feeder, the squeaking
insistence at the fountain.
Teach me to number my days, Lord,
to register the ways your wind
ruffles the tablecloth in the morning’s
gentle breeze, how cool, shortened
shadows signal this sea change
of a season rippling towards
May I live this calendar daily,
not ticking days toward the end
but aware and alive and about your
business, not counting lost hours, but
living into your addition, subtraction
multiplication, division, the only
math that matters.
c. Jody Lee Collins 2017
the light, landing its shadows
on this page as it creeps
ever brighter through the gray.
salve the wound of this
present heaviness, the sighs
that never end. Hold it lightly aloft,
quiet, steady breeze
snuff it out, for we
need it so.
ferry us through storms,
silent and proud as we
shine hope in the right
up ward.Send us, spread us
like the daily sure rising
of your sun, that moves ever
on into the distant dark.