Posted by: mew | August 28, 2009

Origin

I am from hominy, from buster browns and bare feet cradled on cool red clay, from tin roofs rusting where the chicken houses used to stand.  I am from places that no longer exist.

I am from Outside the Perimeter, from the little yellow house on the hill, from a dead-end street where steam rises endlessly from the pavement in summer.  I am from live oaks, from mimosas putting on their feather boas, from kudzu world without end.

I am from mud pies, Frosted Oranges, and badminton in tall grass.

I am from mood swings, monkey bars, and muscadines all the sweeter because he stole them from over the fence.  I am from watermelon sliced open with a machete and sprinkled with salt, from a turquoise bicycle and a black-and-white dog.

I am from Davidson tempers and red hair and freckles, from poverty and the richness of the land, from daffodils by the thousands every March.  I am from great-grandmother right off the boat, and depression, and dirty dishes.  I am from Murray ankles, and manners that maketh men, and knowing which one is the right fork.

I am from Venus twinkling; you can see her right from the porch swing.  I am from fried green tomatoes, ham from the smokehouse, and tea so cold it’ll set your teeth on edge.

I am from learning to let the flat side drag and we don’t take the lord’s name in vain and will you quit staring out the window.

I am from Mama’s all-purpose soup, from getting kicked out of sunday school, from running away with a book.  I am from two people who were young and know each other better now.

I am from ’70s wallpaper, dirt daubers, and socks that didn’t quite make it to the laundry hamper.  I am from a broken table, from a birthday gift from a yard sale, from the Sinner’s Prayer.  I am from Vidalia onions and tetanus shots and an annual pilgrimage to the ocean.

I am from a farm in the North Georgia mountains, from a mansion in downtown Atlanta, and from an army base way far away in Washington state.  I am from Daddy’s draft number 00003.  I am from the best of intentions.

I am from when I die, hallelujah by and by, from some fool yelling in the pulpit again, from corn tassels dried stiff in the drought, from copperheads camouflaged in the pine needles, from the pure note of my bell.

I am from pickle juice and Queen Anne’s lace and my little Mandy.  I am from the lower middle class and from big dreams and from bitterness.  I am from a long line of black cats, and fish sticks, and an out-of-tune piano.  I am from dogwoods in bloom and the slimy bottom of the reservoir.

I am from baptism by submersion and a new spiral notebook and a dirt path through the woods to school.  I am from white sheep and black sheep, from foul balls and triples.  I am from Christmas parties, red clover, and a burned left eye.

I am from pretending to believe in Santa Claus.

I am from honeysuckle, from reruns, from snow days and tree frogs singing at night.  I am from grand jetes and children’s church, from going alone to buy a cherry coke.  And I am from asthma attacks, from ladybugs in a jar, from speaking my own language.  I am from the lightning that struck the round barn.

I am from fried chicken and going fishing with worms I dug myself.  I am from the blue dome of the sky and deep breaths and driving too fast.

I am from the music on the page.

I am from one Thursday morning in June.  I am from love and burned LeSueur peas.  I am from this moment and no regrets.

[Mer’s note:  This was a Natalie Goldberg-style (Writing Down the Bones) timed freewrite using the phrase “I am from,” and having taken inspiration before I began from Robyn’s excellent prompt and this template (special thanks to gemma).  Our artist’s way cluster is working on Week Two of TAW:  Recovering a Sense of Identity.]

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Responses

  1. this was absolutely beautiful to read. I love it!
    amazing how it brings so much to mind when we do this prompt.

  2. Oh I have been to where you are from….mood swings and monkey bars, dirty dishes and socks that missed the hamper. This was great!!!

  3. “I am from the best of intentions…”

    I adored that line. And, I loved this writing. Strong. Clear. True. Real.

    I’ve used Goldberg’s book as my class text for years. I don’t think they come any better in terms of demystifying the writing process and making it seem possible.

    Of all the beautiful works I’ve read for this exercise, this one of yours is my favorite.

  4. Absolutely beautiful, Mer. It took me to the places I first knew you, and to places that I first knew Mandy. You both have been such wonderful and grounding inspirations in my life.

  5. […] If you’d like to read a previous freewrite on a different subject, there’s also this one, of which I’m rather fond.  I’m not thrilled with how this turned out, but that’s the reality of freewriting.  […]


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