I am from red clay soil
Tornadoes, creek beds,
Cicadas’ sounds, sweet smelling cut grass.
I am from reclaimed stray dogs, parakeets, turtles, and tadpoles.
I am from colorful pictures of the Jesus in my children’s bible,
Memorized 23rd Psalm, Midwest grit.
I am from Thanksgiving feasts, trips over the
River and through the woods to
Auntie’s house we go.
I am from the dictionary, the almanac, and grocery store encyclopedias
Bought with coupons.
Where we parsed words, spellings, looked up geographical
And scientific data at family dinner table discussions.
I am from hours and days in libraries,
Summer reading programs with prize certificates
And a Kansas University Jay Hawk patch.
I am from chlorine bleached hair, suntans, lifeguards,
Swim team summers at the neighborhood public swimming pool.
I am from women who are cheerful, in-defeatable, studious, determined,
steadfast, curious, wealthy in loving relationships,
creative, artistic, musical, tellers of family stories.
I am from women
Who cook up savory feasts
From memory with pungent herbs,
Sometimes with make-do recipes.
I am from women who creatively set a lively table
With floral, gourd, feathered decorative centerpieces
On laced or linen table cloths, cloth napkins, family silver
For holiday meals and special get-together s.
I am from women who enjoy their men,
But do not take them too seriously,
Who laugh at themselves, parse words in the pantry
As they prepare sumptuous meals
While the men who hunt pheasant talk of
Hunting, politics, farm prices.
I am from women who love babies,
Young things, raising them up to be strong, resolute, hardworking,
And raise all sorts of animals from chicks, to calves, to kittens,
To puppies, to colts, to piglets
In syncope with farmer husbands
Or even suburban husbands, who encourage puppies and kittens to grow.
I am from farmer families that moved to the suburbs,
But still enjoy tilling the soil, raising gardens,
Following weather and farm reports.
I am from neat little tract houses,
With green, wee less lawns, small backyard gardens,
Bird feeders and bird baths,
Clotheslines and clothes pins.
I am from civic minded parents
Who were active in community.
Who helped get out the vote.
Who were city council representatives,
And thought voter registration as
Important as vacation Bible school registration.
I am from gentle, subtle, verbal sparring peoples,
Who would much rather use words than fists.
Who would choose to
Talk gently to their neighbors, and
Not raise their voices at home.
I am from a server in and survivor of Flying Fortress bomber B-17 WWII.
Who did not have guns at our suburban home
Out of love and safety for his family.
Who said home accidental killings were
More common than getting a robber.
Who could turn the gun against you anyway.
I am from the Garden of Eden,
The Garden of Gethsemane,
The backyard garden,
And the Garden of the Holy Spirit.
I am from them, listening to their Wisdom,
Hoping to hear both
That still, small voice and that big, bold voice
That connects me, grounds me, envelops me
In hope and love.