I Am From
I am from black cast iron
from and cured by coal fires stoked across an Appalachian morning.
I am from the two hundred white oaks felled, stripped, and squared by the heart of a lanky, warring Scot who drew broad blades and adze.
I am from Maggie’s yellow yams roasted, mashed, and crusted, harvested, bushelled atop the red-dirt cellar ledge.
I am from the woodlander’s iris, the western poppy, the blue ridge tendril of a pink southern dogwood. The red October maple whose long gone limbs I remember as if they were my own.
I’m from and of the Eastern band of dark eyes, swapped lore, ruby lipped, full hipped, babe rocking song of a hollow lark, Mary Panther,
from and painted A NI WO DI.
I’m from and prayer, part matrilineal chant and from steeples rising beyond the ridge field of wheat.
I’m from and destroyed by angels sailing on the Charming Nancy
and the young Dorothea, buried now at sea.
I‘m from pure brown sorghum, boiled and skimmed until frog eyes form and the molasses fills the mason jar.
I”m from Portola’s expedition, the gold rush, and the unearthing of the man from Arlington springs
and buttermilk and sweet ovarian corn.
Gentle, final, delivered late and last, named by a midwife calling, carrying blooms wrapped by the fronds of daybreak pulled at the creek run of the little broad.
The one who centered, who remembered, who floated when she moved, who danced late night silks in Bakersfield, who rolled trousers to fish alongside my father’s shoulders at the Santee Cooper dam, who sewed long into the night, deliberate, exacting a century in her perfect stitches.
The one whose adolescent scarlet beat leaked mitral damage, repaired by civic rural response and Boston legend Dwight Emary Harken, America’s finest surgeon of the heart.
George Ella Lyon wrote a poem titled Where I Am From that has been used extensively as a writing assignment in schools. Try it yourself!