Where I’m From *

I am from cotton hand-me-downs, hemmed to fit,
From Carnation powdered milk 
And big biscuit Nabisco Shredded Wheat.
From racing and yelling, “I’LL GET IT!”
Whenever the black rotary phone rang.

I am from the rambling green house on Thomas Road
With its honeycombs of window panes overlooking 
Spreading oaks dripping Spanish moss, 
Bright pink azaleas, and the piles of soggy leaves 
That caught us when we let go of the swinging rope.

I’m from shelling peas, picking wild blackberries,
And baby-fine pageboys with too-short bangs, 
From collecting coke bottles from ditches to trade in at the 7-Eleven
For Double Bubble gum with its tiny comic tucked inside.

I am from Mildred and Claudia and Laura Jane
And Frederick Thomas Carnes the Third,
From business-before-pleasure’s and waste-not-want-not’s, 
And five dollar birthday gifts “for your college education.”

I’m from children’s choir and bell choir, MYF,
And doe-eyed Jesus with wavy brown hair.
I’m from Way Down in Killarney and Look Away Dixieland,
Fried okra, tuna casseroles topped with cracker crumbs,
And homemade vanilla ice cream with ripe, summer peaches.

I am from 16-year-old Grandmother teaching a one-room schoolhouse,
Whispers about her brother, Uncle Oliver, the blacksheep drunk, 
And what Momma said we each looked like when we were born. 
I am from the hum of Grandmother’s black and gold sewing machine,
The smell of Grandfather’s pipe tobacco, and waking from a nightmare
To sneak into the warm comfort of Momma’s bed.

I took root in the wet terra cotta of East Texas’ Big Thicket,
And, wherever my feet take me, my blood still smells of pine and clay.

* With apologies to George Ella Lyon

by Celeste Boudreaux, June 2022

Next post: Where the River Will Go

2 Comments on “Where I’m From *”

  1. wow! the choice of the Asterix * and then finding the apology in your title is amazing. It makes the commonness of your poem feel vulnerable. I don’t mean to say your writing is “common” just that the events are relatable “Americana” images. I love how you created “stress” with the asterix. It’s a wonderful poem!


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