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.
I had the joy last weekend 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.