Where I’m From

after George Ella Lyon
I am from Hopie and Odell, from Rumi’s anteroom
of souls — some kind of late night wedding chapel
where, as my parents married, my soul stood up
at the sweetness of their faces. Yes, I said.
I will. I do.
I am from Sweet Jesus glowing honey brown
on the back wall of the church, and my mother’s cousin
Darlene leading song service up front, her arms
waving like a drum major’s —
I’m redeemed           by love divine
I’m redeemed        by love divine
Glory, Glory, Christ is mine, Christ is mine
— the men singing the echo part and the sun
pouring in all wild.
I am from the uncool table of girls who polished rocks,
made up songs in little notebooks and spoke in the language
of the Once and Future King. From learning to say Grandma
instead of Mamaw, and to not tell about the poke
Daddy pulled from the side of the road for supper. I am from
the time I asked Laura Grinstead of the smooth hair
and matching clothes a question about English class,
and Nancy Grimm informed me: Were you
talking to her?     I am from watching my sister-in-law
to learn what to wear.
I am from ten years of graduate school and always only one
right answer for every twenty-five students, from the full professor
who said to me, as I sat in his office eight months gone — shame
I was having babies instead of books.
I am from my girls who birth me every day into this world.
I am from cancer and heart attacks, from Daddy playing his guitar
and whispering hope to Uncle Ted at three a.m.
in the Morrow County hospital, and from my cousin Debby
who punched out the nurse that tried to stop him.
I am from the man who took off his hat when I cried
in the elevator in Saint Joe’s and from the woman
who prayed with my mother in the bathroom at Walmart
the fourth day after chemo.
I am from the same waiting room
as you — the one where God said Who will go
to this world I made only out of things that die
and find out for us how much sweetness that adds?
And we all of us raised our hands.

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