I am from hand-me-down couches,
from newsprint on Silly Putty and a dusty bottle of brandy-colored Chanel No. 5.
I am from dog hair covered rugs where Virginia Slim smoke hung heavy in air, held in place by the dim, lamp light.
I am from the tall pine tree whose sappy branches we climbed, from spiky evergreen bushes, their needles stuck in my bare feet.
I am from opening one gift on Christmas Eve and hot tempers with quick fuses and red flashes,
from Jacqueline Lane and Georgia Emma and Vicki Ann.
I am from the never forgets and the rarely forgives.
From life isn’t fair and he doesn’t know what he’s missing.
I am from kneelers and holy water, RCIA and catechism,
from baptism, first communions and reconciliations, with more questions than answers
I’m from the flat Kansas plains, from Southern plantation owners who became poor Southern sharecroppers, I’m from Denmark and Scotland.
I’m from sugary, tart cranberry ice and pink salad with canned cherry pie filling,
from Coors with pull tabs and two olive martinis
From the man who sold vacuum cleaners in the dust bowl, the burned hands in Vietnam, and the arthritic hands showing me here’s the church, here’s the steeple
I am from cedar chests filled with locks of hair in envelopes, 4th grade report cards, and macaroni and Elmer’s glue artwork. The pack rat’s proof of worth, memories of smiles in photographic form.