Where I’m From / a poem

I’m from a family of seven, all very different

We love more than is wise

I’m from parents married twenty-nine years

And a legacy I fear I’ll never live up to

 

I’m from a house as old as the hills

It was built by my ancestors and holds the mark of each generation

I know each creak in the wooden floor like a friend

And can always tell who is coming up the stairs by the sound of their footsteps

 

I’m from a childhood spent in a fort in the woods

Creating gourmet grass salads and mudpies with water from the creek

I’m from hay bale tag with my cousins

And playing Nintendo 64 with my brothers

 

I’m from weeklong trips to visit my cousins in North Dakota

A truckload of memories

14 hours spent in the topper, trying to sleep over the noise of the road

I’m from doing things I’d never let my kids do

 

I’m from a woman who wasn’t supposed to have another child.

I’m from my Daddy’s curls and my Mama’s mind

I’m from both of their eyes—greenish blue with brown specks

And a combination of their humor, dry and teasing

But mostly I’m from their lessons of honesty and generosity, learning to serve others

 

I’m from long nights in the barn bottle feeding a sick calf whose mama turned him away

And in the wee hours of the morning a part of me dies with him

Another loss we can’t afford, but it cost my heart the most

 

I’m from sweaty summer days chopping logs and piling firewood

Sometimes in the middle of a blizzard if winter’s lasted too long

I’m from learning how to drive machinery

And complaining when the work stretches longer than the daylight

 

I’m from a hospital waiting room, they all look the same

Drinking hot chocolate and lemonade and playing with toys that must be covered in germs

I’m from long trips to Madison—the Ronald McDonald House is my second home

Staying there was comforting because it meant my brother was being helped

 

I’m from hundreds of hours spent alone, reading and imagining

One more chapter turns into let me finish this book

I’m from adventures with Steinbeck and the Bronte sisters

Those around me wonder if I’m okay, but I’m lost in a different world and unaware of their concern

 

I’m from running from problems

Avoiding conflict

Crying if someone yells at me

I’m from arguing with those I love the most

And I’m from regret

 

I’m from a rollarcoaster of emotion; good days and bad days

I’m from existential crises, anxiety, and depression

I’m from seeking help and talking about my struggles

I’m from fear, but I’m from hope even more

 

I’m from a small school

I’m from leadership and clubs

I’m from playing basketball as a hobby, not a be-all-end-all

I’m from belonging everywhere yet nowhere

 

I’m from wondering, watching, seeking, listening

I’m from wanting and waiting

 

I’m from not being musical, artistic, or particularly athletic

But I’m from never turning away from a challenge

I’m from using my strengdths, even if they are not the most conventional

I’m from rearranging furniture and organizing closets for fun

 

I’m from writing down my thoughts and ideas

But I’m also from being too afraid they’re ordinary to share them with others

I’m from worrying about what others think of me

And I’m from hating how I look

 

I’m from working hard—it’s what my name means, after all

Third in my family to graduate valedictorian

I’m from perfectionism and wanting to be the best

I’m from realizing how temporary that satisfaction is

 

I’m from shyness

Brought about—I’m told—by strangers touching my hair when I was a child

I’m from that still happening to this day

I shudder when I’m touched, even from a friend’s hug

I’m from trying to overcome that

 

I’m from five years of homeschool

And trying to help my brother with math and English

I’m from realizing he helped me in more important ways

Like knowing how to be brave, sacrificial, and eternity-minded

 

I’m from frozen pizzas and cop shows on Friday nights

I’m from old traditions

And trying new things

 

I’m from traveling the world

Seeking new experiences and exploring different cultures

I’m from walking in the shoes of others, wanting to understand their perspective

And I’m from learning more about myself at the same time

 

I’m from family reunions where I don’t know many of the people there

I’m from a Grandfather who had 14 siblings

Lutefisk and lefse

I’m from Swedish jokes

 

I’m from a town without a movie theater, grocery store, or mall

The gas station is out of business half the time

I’m from social events at church

I love them but I always wished there was more dancing

 

I’m from excellent teachers

And I’m from average teachers

But I’m from learning something from each one

And thanking them for the lesson

 

I’m from tattoos and alcohol

Just enough to shock my parents

I’m from living in the moment

Sometimes with the purpose of avoiding the future

 

I’m from seeking peace

And strengthening my faith

A work in progress

I’m from learning to give myself grace

 

I’m from all of these things

And I can’t change, mourn, or hate them

I can only appreciate them

Because they have made me who I am

 


 

I got the concept for this poem from the professor of one of my elementary ed methods courses. It can help students (or anyone) consider their values and how their background and experiences have influenced them and shaped them into who they are today. I was inspired to create my own “Where I’m From” poem and decided to share it on my blog. I encourage you to try your hand at writing about where you are from!

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