August 30, 2009

Where I'm From

I wrote this piece as a favor to a friend, a high school English teacher. She gave her students an assignment to write a poem describing themselves and their history, and wanted me to write one as an example of what they could do. I hope it helped her class, it helped me to write it!

I come from humble, accidental beginnings.
A twinkle in my father’s eye and
A mother too tired to save herself.
I come from a place where I was one last thought.
One more mouth around an already
stretched tight table.
But I come from far before that, too.
I come from Native Americans
Assimilated into foreign culture.
From European immigrants, coal-miners, union men.
From southern plantation owners
and keepers of slaves.

I decided early on to choose where I was going.
Not to the life prescribed to me.
The life of -“No girl needs an education”.
To reading and curiosity and educating myself.
The belief of- “You can never get ahead”.
To succeeding admirably from nothing.
The motto of -“Don’t ask for anything and expect less”.
To fighting and striving and getting what my heart desires.
From feeling unsafe and unwanted and in the way,
To being a parent who loved and was always responsible.
When I think of where I come from,
It doesn’t really matter.
What matters is what have I done so far,
And what else I can accomplish.


  1. Hi Cynthia,

    I see you haven't hung up your pen and ink then?!

    I'm sure your friend's students would learn a lot from your poem. It puts you in a time and place and suggests that we are all a product of much more than simply our parents. I particularly like:

    "One more mouth around an already
    stretched tight table."

    A very clear picture.

  2. I liked this poem a lot.
    'A mother too tired to save herself'is very subtle and well expressed
    I also come from the school of
    'expect nothing and anything is a bonus'