I am from the paved edge of a college campus, of stray kittens raised on Cherrios bloated with milk, of many assumptions, seldom spoken or challenged, of pioneer forbearance as palpable as the smooth back of a walnut pew.
I am from the meadowlark, warbling with abandon, bony feet bracing in the wind on fences at the edge of the industrial park. I’m from pinecone treasures that seep sap onto palms and shirts, and lilacs, thick with perfume, that spill ants onto the table.
I am from Lutheran potlucks in the country church basement of the generation before, bananas and celery suspended in Jello, and whole tables of pies, from recipes printed in fund-raiser cookbooks but made by heart, flaky crusts with butter folded in the right number of turns. I’m from perseverance as a virtue, from Verna and Clara and Turina and the farms they built.
I am from the bowed head and considered reaction, from happiness that wells up like night revealing stars and does not require grasping or accumulation. From “no pain, no gain,” “this, too, shall pass,” and “make hay while the sun shines.”
I am from a faith, God or no, that bears up young sons crushed when tractors rolled, of the steel, flesh, and earth auctioned before foreclosure, of violently lonely divorces, cancers, closeted sexual orientations, addictions.
I'm from blue-ice fjords and sod-roofed dugouts, from lefse spotted and serene as a Holstein, from frog-eye salad with mini marshmallows. From a house painter who stanched a sliced artery with one hand to drive himself to the emergency room with the other, from the convivial little boy, chatting up grown strangers at the urinal, from a crystalline soprano voice soaring, filling the hall.
I am from brass chords so pure their parts are indistinguishable, from the green hymnal of harmony, from that country congregation that rises to sing the Hallelujah Chorus on Easter Sunday, from memory. I am from whistling while you work and from gratitude for daily bread, even when that’s all you can stomach.
I am from “try,” and if that doesn’t work, “try again.” I am from “dig deep; you can do this.”
I am becoming “listen to yourself: your are among us.”
This entry is based loosely on a George Ella Lyon poem by the same name.
Writer friends -- you might enjoy the prompt here.