Where I’m From

(After George Ella Lyon)

I am from star jasmine,
from slingshots and forbidden books.

I am from foaming water, pulling me under.
(white, churning
tasting like salt.)

I am from the black walnut,
the wild blueberry bush,
whose roots dug tenaciously into the Michigan soil,
resurfacing every summer, as I did.  

I am from poviticas and freckles,
from Ruth, Frances, and Lavina.

I am from the stiff-upper-lips,
and the never-let-them-see-you-crys,
from the act-like-a-lady and the knock-it-offs.

I’m from Hail Mary, Full of Grace, The Lord is with Thee,
with the bleeding red heart of Christ, himself,
And every night, my soul, I prayed to keep.

I’m from the Upper Peninsula and Ventura Boulevard,
Rutabagas and TV dinners.
From the house my grandfather built 
by hand, lovingly,
And the strays my mother brought home at midnight.

In my room was a wooden box,
Cradling old photos, letters, and childhood treasures.
Four walls holding memories.
I am from those memories — 

Of salt, 
and earth, 
and a bleeding red heart.

Image: Fredrik Solli Wandem