Yes, yes I was born on December 24th. Everyone always seems so surprised, but someone's got to have that one, right? I had the annual "Blankety-blank years ago right now, your father and I......" call with my mom, of which I never tire. And of which I always learn something new. Like it was so cold that long dark December night on the Oregon coast that my dad kept having to go outside and chop wood for the fire all through the night. That's how the neighbors knew my mom was in labor. And that my mom labored in that maroon overstuffed chair most of the night, digging her fists into the sides of the cushions each time she felt a contraction come on. Anyway, these are stories really just for her and for me, not really for anyone else. Plus, you all are busy elving around right now, most likely.
So, instead, I prepared something kind of short and sweet (to me anyway). I'm really going out on a limb here, because I don't write poems. But I like them very, very much. Many months back I was quite inspired when I read George Ella Lyon's beautiful poem Where I'm From. I also read other people's poems which followed her template (like Bleeding Espresso's and Susie J's). At first, I thought, how can a poem be based on a template? That's sort of cheating. But then, for some reason (probably because I realized I couldn't write a poem to save my life), I felt this overwhelming desire to write my own version of Where I'm From. I've never showed anyone this poem or even told anyone about it. Anyway, here goes. You'd better read it quick, because I'll probably take it down once this wine wears off!
Where I'm From
I am from strong black coffee softened with cream, from Malt-o-Meal, and all good things baked from foaming, living yeast.
I am from a gardenia bloom sweetly decorating the eve, the tomato plant rich with ripe fruit.
I am from cooking and eating and sharing and loving, for all that is one where I come from, from the quietly classy Mary Lou, loving and soft Great-Grandma Ruth, and the gentlest of men, Jacob August.
I am from sharp tongues and sarcasm and sometimes judgment too, but also a love of adventure and language and quick wit.
I am from true believers, those needing answers with sharp edges, demons unknown, and from a quiet, peaceful place that does not ask questions.
I am from a green, small Oregon town, one of simple people, Croatia and also the all-American Mid-West, bubbling fruit pies with the flakiest of crusts (a prized trait) and coffee cake and smoked turkeys….all of us kids picking at the crispy yummy bits.
From Grace, who lost her own mother at just two years and went on to a lifetime of caring for others.
I am from a box of love letters written by my grandfather, flying through enemy fire, living a world away, reassuring and doting on my grandmother even then, seducing her at times. The foundation of a family to come.
I am from these places, not here anymore, but here because I am.