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.