I Am From

This poetic form is commonly taught. I wrote my version during my summer in The Oregon Writing Project, and used it extensively as a model for my students. As always, I welcome your comments. Enjoy!

I.
I am from a crisp northwest wind whistling through Douglas fir trees
mushroom hunting and clam digs on Sunday
the coyote’s cry far across the tracks
big swings and dog kennels and falling into the lake
the stale licorice of grampa’s overfull candy jar and grandma’s fudgesicle
dime
and up late on scrabble night

I am from palm fronds scissoring in a tropical breeze
hotels, languages, airplanes and ox-carts
exotic fruits and grape Fanta
the only blonde girl
and learning to swim in the sea

I am from an accident hit by a speeding car
she’ll never walk again
come on you can do it just hold my hand
learning on my spindly leg by swimming and by making it around my bed

I am from learning to wear green eyeshadow with school uniforms
knowing who the Beattles are
barbies endless monopoly
water fights & hide n’ seek on backstairs after dark
days in the pool in 94 degree Bangkok sun learning
to count out Marco Polo in Thai
saying a 1972 goodbye to Jessie that still hasn’t turned back to hello
returning home a foreigner and trying to fit in
until graduation night
swim team youth trek girl scouts honor role
rock concerts laced with 7-up & sloe-gin
thinking time never ends

II.
I am from the sudden death of my father
sorrow to my bone
a blindness in my soul
from 15 years of believing I could do anything if I tried
to learning in one second a defeat so immense
knowing now that time does end

III.
I am from the red blue green of blinking bar neon lights
learning to dance rock a’ billy and stay up all night
loud times liquor and friendships forged for forever
that have really have lasted that long
bad jobs no plans hangovers on Sauvie Island beach
promises unmade therefore unbroken and no regrets
turning 24 and not knowing why

I am from saying I’m an artist who’s ready to move on

I am from a decade’s worth of lovers who turn into best friends
from “even for a nice girl I just can’t settle down”
from losing friends to exotic places and heroin
to staying here alienated until I don’t know when

IV.
I have come through the expanse of red earth
and dead bone day heat
the top of the world wind in the desert sunset
the shadow black night of the clear Utah sky
through a month of starlite night-time and cool water days on Mexico beach
through the memory of riding with dolphins
and whale cry as I drift to sleep
through roadtrips and roadsides that lead to my heart

V.
I have come from the 1762 in Groningen & Norway
a one-room sod house in Sedro Wooley
and the farmed fields of Montana
the backroads of Washington
and many sparkling places of the world

I have come from hard work and don’t give up
put a little elbow grease into it
don’t cry wolf
you’re going to have to get yourself down from there
and
because you’re a Knott

Time after endless time
I am from strength and beauty and love.

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