Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Adoption Birthday Poem: Where I'm From

I'm not a poet, but I thought I'd do the "Where I'm From" poetry exercise/meme, which I first saw at Pratie Place. Basically, you use the template found here to write a poem using George Ella Lyons's poem, "Where I'm From," as a model. For some reason, the link to Lyons's poem includes something called "Louisiana Voices," bits and pieces of the poem written by women from Louisiana. Below is my attempt at using my own Louisiana voice in this exercise. It really was fun to write; try it yourself.

Why did I write this? I wrote it to celebrate my adoption "birthday." I was born on February 18, but I wasn't adopted until April 27, thirty-five years ago today.

WHERE I'M FROM, by Waterfall

I am from coffee grounds,
from Fisher-Price little people and bleached clam-shell driveways.
I am from the slant-roofed playroom,
the green carpet and the brown braided rug,
littered with toys and tiny shoes.
I am from the pair of hickories in the back yard,
thick, woody roots intertwining,
killed by blight one summer after we moved on.

I’m from braided bread wrappers and
stewed chicken served on TV trays at Christmas.
I am from Baxley and Gamble,
Didier, Gilbert and Barlow.

I am from the sound of his whistling,
And the sound of her singing Jesus-songs as she rocked me to sleep.
I am from the clean-plate club,
and milkshakes at Burger Chef after the dentist,
and nectar snowballs on steamy summer afternoons.

I am from Bible Discoverers and weekly verses,
sultry summer mornings in line for Bible school,
and baptism in a tennis dress, before a dressed-up congregation,
one bright Sunday morning when I was six.

I am from the river’s edge and flooded streets after rain.
I’m from the grassy green levee,
dotted with fire-ant hills and smelling of fresh cow-pies.
I am from Plaquemine, half-devoured
by the hungry Mississippi,
five buried blocks now scattered beneath her muck.

I am from filé gumbo and jambalaya,
Community coffee and Kraft Macaroni and Cheese.
I am from Mardi Gras costumes, with
fallen sequins replaced in a pinch with the hot-glue gun.
I am from black-watch plaid jumpers and navy-blue shoes
bought at Tic-Toc, or Duffy’s, on a Wednesday afternoon.

I am from the tiny attic with wall-posters,
school papers, and construction-paper art—
memories now shipped, some of them, to Carolina,
or stored for safekeeping in the cabinet below the television,
in yellowing albums with pages grown sticky with age.

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