Wednesday, July 22, 2009

oh, southern new mexico.


I am from goatheads in bicycle tires, from Sunny Delight and sunburns.

I am from a single story ranch with stucco exterior, so dry, the sand in windstorms attacking legs like a thousand tiny knives.

I am from yucca pods and anthills and hundreds of acres of green grass in the middle of the desert.

I am from restaurants with salad bars and not talking about it, from Johnnie and Dave and Ruth.

I am from funny and acting like everything is fine.

From too big for your britches and ENOUGH!

I am from a southern baptist deacon and the church secretary and vacation bible school and being there every time the doors were open (of being the ones who opened the doors).

I'm from The Land of Enchantment and Hatch Chile and pizza delivery.

From a large man with a larger personality who broke his back in the rodeo, lived loud and wild and then settled down with a small town girl. They eloped three months after meeting.

I am the school pictures in frames on shelves in my grandma's house, alongside so many jars of marbles. Faces stuck in contrived smiles, bad haircuts, dated styles holding little bits that I thought I wanted to forget, but as it turns out, I do not.


I snagged the bones of that poem whilst booking some face yesterday. (Also, and only precariously related to the subject at hand, hence the overused parentheses: how much do I simultaneously love and hate the facebook? A Lot. On one hand, I am tempted to get all Tyler Durden-ish and flip the whole insane concept the bird. Knowing where we come from is one thing, but keeping tedious record of every step along the way is something completely different. We are so much more than status updates, than folders of photos, than lines of basic info on profile pages. . . We are thoughts and words and relationships. We are not things to be collected. But, then, I do like having a list of folks handy, like a loaded, useful Rolodex. And I do play some mean Scrabble. So. . . I stick around).

You can make one, too. A 'Where You're From' poem. Let me know if you do. I had my girl write one, and asked her if I could post it here and she declined. Maybe later, she said. She had some tweaking still to do.

For your creative writing enjoyment (the following copied and pasted from a friend's facebook post, which I will assume she lifted from elsewhere and so on):

"If you don't know where you're from, you'll have a hard time saying where you're going." Wendell Berry, among others, has voiced this idea that we need to understand our roots to know our place in the world. A poem by George Ella Lyons is called "Where I'm From." The poem lends itself to imitation and makes a wonderful exercise of exploration in belonging.

I'd like to suggest that you give it a try. The prompts have a way of drawing out memories of the smells of attics and bottom-drawer keepsakes; the faces of long-departed kin, the sound of their voices you still hold some deep place in memory. You'll be surprised that, when you're done, you will have said things about the sources of your unique you-ness that you'd never considered before. What's more, you will have created something of yourself to share--with your children, spouse, siblings--that will be very unique, very personal and a very special gift.

The template is below. Give it a try, and post your own "Where I'm From" poem. Then tag a few friends, and see where they are from...

I am from _______ (specific ordinary item), from _______ (product name) and _______.

I am from the _______ (home description... adjective, adjective, sensory detail).

I am from the _______ (plant, flower, natural item), the _______ (plant, flower, natural detail)

I am from _______ (family tradition) and _______ (family trait), from _______ (name of family member) and _______ (another family name) and _______ (family name).

I am from the _______ (description of family tendency) and _______ (another one).

From _______ (something you were told as a child) and _______ (another).

I am from (representation of religion, or lack of it). Further description.

I'm from _______ (place of birth and family ancestry), _______ (two food items representing your family).

From the _______ (specific family story about a specific person and detail), the _______ (another detail, and the _______ (another detail about another family member).

I am from _______ (location of family pictures, mementos, archives and several more lines indicating their worth).


Lisa said...

I love it. It brings back memories of my own childhood and roots.

I'm doing one right now.

Anonymous said...

so nice. especially as a companion piece to "home bittersweet home."