Friday, April 1, 2016

April is Poetry Month: Where Do You Come From?

During the month of April, in honor of National Poetry Month, I am re-posting poems that I have written and shared on this blog. This one is from October 2, 2013 

Going home 
by Tom Roberts
Last week I saw an interesting post by Chrystal at "Life After Church." She was taking part in a syncblog with She Loves Magazine in which participants followed a template to write out a poem about their personal heritage. I thought it looked like a good exercise in personal reflection. Looking closely at the site, it seemed to be a project for women so I did not try to link up with the project. I did decide to download the template, however, and by filling in the blanks (then adding a little bit) I came up with a snapshot of things I remember from a formative period in my childhood. I chose to look at a window of time when I was about six years old. If I had done this on another day, or picked a different time in my life,  it would have come out differently, but this was a helpful reminiscence.

I recommend the activity for anyone. Taking a look at where you came from and examining the influential forces in your life - good or bad - can be informative, liberating, and empowering. Besides all of that, it is always good for us to remember where we came from.  If any of you want to try this yourself, you can download the template here.

This Is Where I'm From
By Charles Kinnaird

I am from an old wrought iron floor lamp that I used to stand on
       and pretend I was a koala bear sitting in a eucalyptus tree;
From white bread and peanut butter.
I am from the little light green asbestos-siding house on top of the hill just up the road        
       from the fish pond where train comes through.

I am from the grassy field and woodland stream,
And the water oak whose long gone limbs I remember as if they were my own.
I’m from church every Sunday and hand cranked ice cream in the summer. 
From picking wild plums that grow along dirt roads
And harvesting vegetables from the family garden plot.

I’m from the small town Baptist preacher and the high school English teacher,
From Sunday afternoon naps and sitting around the kitchen table,
And from trips to the library.

I’m from “haste makes waste” and “keep your elbows off the table”
And “Climb, Climb up Sunshine Mountain” that we sang in Sunday school.
I’m from hanging stockings on Christmas Eve. 
I'm from birthday parties and Easter egg hunts.

I’m from the foothills of Alabama just below Appalachia
And Scots-Irish immigrants of years past whose descendants
                taught school
                   canned tomatoes
                      did the early shift down at the saw mill
                         stocked shelves over at the general store
                            and worked for Western Union.
I’m from cotton mill country and field peas with corn bread.

I’m from seeing ducks on the pond
And sparrows in the garage.
From watching over the dog when he was sick,
And the cat when she got hurt.

From seeing pets die
No matter how hard we tried.
I'm from living with loss 
Then finding that space to love pets again.

From the Depression-era mechanic who answered a higher call
       and went off to college,
       not knowing if he would be able to afford the next year’s tuition
       – but by George, he did it!
From the elephant bell in the corner of the room that was a wedding gift
And the old wicker-backed wooden rocker where the grandma I never knew
Combed out her hair in the evening
So they say.

I am from a long line of folks who knew how to keep a good name.
Some were tough as nails
Some were quiet, some were ornery
Some a bit odd
But they were all good folks
So they say.

                                                                        ~ CK


Picture: Going Home oil on wood panel
             painting by Tom Roberts, 1889
             Public Domain
             Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons


1 comment:

  1. Kicking off Poetry Month with a template you can use to tell your story in a poem.


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