Where I’m From

Day five of NaBloPoMo and I’m barely hanging on by a string.  I just booked a flight cross country this weekend to visit my ailing grandfather, and I just finished making arrangements for child coverage for my husband while I’m gone.  Now it’s way too late, and if I wait much longer I’ll miss my day five window.  So in honor of the many phone calls to California tonight and the cross referencing of which flight will get me where when and the plaintive calls to friends who are just like family to us to see who can take the kids to soccer and dance and back again–an evening that’s been focused entirely on family, both the one three feet away and the one 3000 miles away–I thought I’d post a poem I’ve written for my professional work in racial identity development.  My co-teacher and I ran a session tonight for 20+ educators, and we asked them to write a similar poem, following Linda Christensen’s fantastic suggestions.  The idea is to help educators locate themselves in order to better help students navigate these often difficult paths, and it’s something I’ve done for myself and with my high school students to great success.

I’m no poet, that’s certain.  But I took a crack at the poem a few years ago, and I retool it every now and then before sharing it with students; and it’s at least something that I think represents many of the aspects of “where I’m from.”  Here’s the current incarnation:

I Am From

I am from Saturday night poker games,
eggs purchased in crates,
and broken English laughter.
I am from bami and poffertjes
and fist fights with many, many cousins
to “godverdomme” and “Tante” and “Om.”
I am from “Oma” and “Opa,” too.

I am from a stranger of a father,
broken memories from my mother,
an overly logical engineer,
and knowing too much about
alcohol and drugs.

I am from questioning my feelings,
wondering “will they still love me?”
and “maybe it’s a just a phase”
and “what’s wrong with me?”

I am from new families created
By everything but blood
With the strongest of ties
That will never be broken.

I am from a complicated history that
begins on an island,
travels over many seas,
and stumbles through the United States
and back
that ends with me.