On the Occasion of My 35th Birthday.

December 24, 2008

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.

20 comments:

  1. I hope I'm not the only one who gets to read that, because it was lovely. Happy Birthday. And Merry Christmas.

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  2. I liked that a lot Jora. Happy 35th Birthday and Merry Christmas.

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  3. Your poem is simply gorgeous; what a perfect birthday gift to yourself and to us :)

    Hope you had a great birthday and happy holidays as well!

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  4. beautiful, sweet words. please don't feel anything but pride and calm once the wine wears off... thank you for sharing. maybe you should drink, write and type more often!:-)happy birthday and merry christmas!

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  5. You're not a poet?? That was beautiful! Hope your birthday and christmas are sweet and wonderful, as only little ones can make it!

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  6. Happy Birthday and Merry Christmas! The poem is lovely.

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  7. what a great way to remember, share, and celebrate. hope your birthday was rich with memories to share later!!!
    happy holidays.

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  8. Such beautiful words to commemorate such a happy occasion. Hope your birthday and Christmas were very special.

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  9. jora, how pretty! Glad you didn't take it down. Happy birthday, happy holidays, happy to hear a little of where you are from.

    and... i'm from a Mary Lou too.

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  10. Merry Birthday to you. That was simply lovely.

    jbhat

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  11. Oh that is a beautiful poem. Please do not remove it. It think you should be so proud of your way with language and your ability to create such strong visual pictures with them.

    Congratulations on your birthday, I'm sorry you have a bad time of the year to celebrate. My husband Shawn is on the 26th.

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  12. Just as beautiful as you and even more special because I know you like I do. Thank you for sharing.

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  13. You are so talented in so many ways, Jora. I was sending you birthday vibes on the 24th. Love, Adri xox

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  14. You are gifted with talent in so, so many ways, Jora. I was sending you birthday vibes on the 24th :) Love, Adri xox

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  15. Happy Belated Birthday! I really enjoyed your poem and hope you had a great birthday! (I turned 35 on the 16th) Happy Birthday from one December girl to another!

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  16. so glad you left this lovely poem up -- it's so sweet and personal but accessible & a really beautiful way to mark the milestone. Happy 35! Make it a great one.

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  17. i love this jora...happy birthday to my fellow 35 year old friend!
    xo
    joslyn

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  18. Beautiful. I think I might try.

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