My Pan surprised me fairly recently. She didn’t tell me she wrote it, but when I stumbled upon it on her blog, I was moved to tears. My sweet niece is hundreds of miles away, but always near and dear in my heart. I’m thinking of her today, so I thought I’d mirror her rendition of Georgia Ella Lyons’ poem, “Where I’m From,” and share her own.
Coincidentally, I’ve taught this poem every year I’ve been teaching. I’ve written my own every year to model to my students, but every year it’s different, in sync with which details my memory chooses to grasp hold of. I think it’s a beautiful cultural representation of the many little, intricate puzzle pieces from childhood that help to create the greater, present day identity of self.
Where I’m From
I am from gray linoleum tile and the long dining room table with eight wooden chairs,
From Pine Sol and the fluorescent Jukebox.
I am from the red brick Georgian with the winding path, the brown and white striped
awning, the chain linked fence.
From Kennedy Park ten speed rides, hanging upside down on the goal post, and the
chlorine bleached pool.
From catching Gardner snakes and from circus days in the back yard.
I am from the grape vines, the little blue play house,
raspberry bushes and the Fern tree, in which my friend Sue and I named, “Libby,”
whose reaching branches rained little green bugs on us each time one of my brothers
decided to hit a branch.
I am from the carved white mirror and crystal chandelier lamp, which perched in our front
From Lauretta and Francis, Margaret and Rich
From huggers, church hand massagers, and Xoxo’s
and from freckles and lanky toes.
I am from Ireland and Chicago.
I am from, “Bless us oh Lord, for these thy gifts,”
“Lord, make me an instrument of your peace, ”
“Head em’ up, Move ’em out.”
From spaghetti lined up on the counter and Mac and Cheese.
Little Debbie and Velveeta.
I am from my dad going over early to pick up my Uncle Rich, just so he can chat with my
mom. From my Grandma Blake line dancing in the 40’s. From my Grandma Ross
working 3 jobs and raising 4 children.
The book case in the back room, spilling with family photo albums on the top shelf. The
blue carpeted stairs my brothers and sisters and I used to toss our book bags on,
and play, “Slippery Mountain,” down.
I am from all of these moments, people, places, and things,
all descending me from my family tree.
A slice of my childhood. Here’s a slice of my present day. My sweet, “Pan,” my niece, inspires me constantly with her precocious charm, artistic perspective, and curious nature.
She created a video to accompany her poem. When you hear her voice reading her words, you will understand.