I Am From: Because Loni Asked So Sweetly

June 20, 2006 @ 7:47 am | Filed under:

Last week I mentioned that Loni was holding a contest over at Joy in the Morning. Tomorrow’s the last day to enter, if you’re of a mind to give it a try. I have to confess I resisted at first, because I’ve never enjoyed scripted writing exercises. But now that I’ve done it, I’m so glad I did. I’m glad for my children: they have a glimpse now of images from my childhood that I might not have remembered if I hadn’t been following this template, which was developed by Kentucky poet George Ella Lyon. Now I’m hounding Scott to do it too. And how cool would it be for my own parents and his to take a stab at it—how my kids would treasure the portrait of their grandparents’ young lives!

Anyway, Loni, here’s my contribution, and thanks for inspiring us!

I am from tumbleweeds,
from Wrangler jeans
and scuffed red sneakers.

I am from the new subdivision
where Denver’s ragged edge
petered out into prairie.
(Clean-lined, symmetrical,
it smelled like baked earth
and new carpeting.)

I am from buffalo grass,
from prairie dog holes chewed
right through the bike trail
beside the Cherokee oak.

I am from biscuits with chocolate gravy
and musical puns,
from Mema and Aunt Genie
and Missy-Merry-Molly.

I am from the sing-out-louds and the what-a-good-flavors.
I am from the-crusts-are-good-for-you and the stay-in-the-right-lanes.

I am from the Sunday morning bus
that took us girls to the Baptist church,
from plastic cups drained of grape juice
and stacked higher than our heads.

I am from Alamogordo where they tested the bombs,
from south Georgia where the soil is red
and jeweled lizards skitter up the brick.
I am from fried okra
and rocky road sheet cake
without the marshmallows
to make it too sweet.

From the time my sister hid
an Easter egg
in my pink purse
that matched my shoes,
and then hid
the purse.
From the crayons we melted
in our overhead light
casting rainbows
on the yellow walls,
from sunburns and freckles.

I am from the albums on Aunt Genie’s bottom shelf,
page after page of the Almand ears
sticking out like pot handles,
from my mother’s shy smile
between her grinning brothers and sisters,
from my looks-too-young-to-be-a-father daddy
standing in front of cargo planes that matched his fatigues.
I am from two kids in love,
three little girls in homemade bonnets,
meadowlarks singing their joy across the blue prairie of the sky.

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7 Reponses | Comments Feed
  1. Rebecca says:

    I love the vibrant images. This really is a beautiful poem, Lissa. BTW, I am a freckle face/sunburned kid, too!

  2. Jenn says:


  3. Dawn says:

    Lissa, this is wonderful!

  4. Sue says:

    Lissa, you really should be a writer someday. Oh, wait… I love your poem–and Jane’s too. They’re both beautiful.

  5. Kim Fry says:


    Still pretty much does : ) I didn’t know you lived in CO before, Lissa. Loved the poem!

  6. Sandra Dodd says:

    My granny used to make me chocolate gravy when I was little!

    This is the first I had heard of it since. Very nice to see. Thanks for luring me over here! Glad I came! I know those Colorado neighborhoods, and I know Alamogordo (my in-laws are there, and my husband grew up there), and I was born in Georgia but I don’t know it, as I know prairie dogs and tumbleweeds :-))

  7. Melissa Wiley says:

    You’re the only other person, the only only non-Brannon EVER, I’ve met who has even heard of chocolate gravy!

    Here’s our recipe

    We left Alamogordo when I was six weeks old & I’ve never been back, but south Georgia I remember very well. 🙂

    When I read your poem I said, “Mmm, Jello pudding” out loud, and now my girls are in the kitchen making some. Butterscotch, my favorite.