Last week, my roommate, Cheryl, told me about a project she was assigning to her elementary-school students. They would have to read the following poem and then make their own version of it.
Where I’m From
by George Ella Lyon
I am from clothespins,
from Clorox and carbon-tetrachloride.
I am from the dirt under the back porch.
it tasted like beets.)
I am from the forsythia bush
the Dutch elm
whose long-gone limbs I remember
as if they were my own.
I’m from fudge and eyeglasses,
from Imogene and Alafair.
I’m from the know-it-alls
and the pass-it-ons,
from Perk up! and Pipe down!
I’m from He restoreth my soul
with a cottonball lamb
and ten verses I can say myself.
I’m from Artemus and Billie’s Branch,
fried corn and strong coffee.
From the finger my grandfather lost
to the auger,
the eye my father shut to keep his sight.
Under my bed was a dress box
spilling old pictures,
a sift of lost faces
to drift beneath my dreams.
I am from those moments–
snapped before I budded —
leaf-fall from the family tree.
She needed an example of what the kids would write — how you can look at the above poem and write a similar one about your own life. I volunteered to write it for her and her class.
I hadn’t written a poem since high school (and even then, I can’t remember the last poem I wrote). I did write a 10-page essay for my senior year high school English class about the use of commas in William Wordsworth’s “Daffodils” — no joke! But I was excited about the idea of writing a poem. Here’s the result!
Where I’m From
By Lia Lehrer
I am from celery and peanut butter
With neatly placed raisins on the log.
I am from the Aquarium, the Planetarium,
The history museum full of Eskimos.
I am from a collection of snowmen
And a collection of quilts
And a collection of birdhouses.
(Once my mom was satisfied with one collection
She moved on to the next.)
I am from the cold winter
And the hot summer
And the golden and red crunchy leaves.
I am from the foosball and the Nintendo
And the endless hours of sitcoms
And Saturday morning cartoons.
I’m from a family made of friends
And friends made of family.
I’m from a scrapbook of photos
Scotch-taped to the pages with
And memories from not too long ago.