“Where I’m From” by George Ella Lyon | Facing History & Ourselves
Reading

“Where I’m From” by George Ella Lyon

In this poem, George Ella Lyon lists all the characteristics that shape her identity and where she’s from.
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At a Glance

reading copy
Reading

Language

English — US

Subject

  • English & Language Arts
  • Culture & Identity

I am from clothespins,

from Clorox and carbon-tetrachloride.

I am from the dirt under the back porch.

(Black, glistening,

it tasted like beets.)

I am from the forsythia bush

the Dutch elm

whose long-gone limbs I remember

as if they were my own.

 

I’m from fudge and eyeglasses,

from Imogene and Alafair.

I’m from the know-it-alls

and the pass-it-ons,

from Perk up! and Pipe down!

I’m from He restoreth my soul

with a cottonball lamb

and ten verses I can say myself.

I’m from Artemus and Billie’s Branch,

fried corn and strong coffee.

From the finger my grandfather lost

to the auger,

the eye my father shut to keep his sight.

 

Under my bed was a dress box

spilling old pictures,

a sift of lost faces

to drift beneath my dreams.

I am from those moments —

snapped before I budded —

leaf-fall from the family tree. 1


You can use the Where I’m From Brainstorm handout to help students write their own Where I’m From poems.

  • 1George Ella Lyon, “Where I’m From,” georgeellalyon.com. Copyright © 1999 by George Ella Lyon. Reproduced with permission.

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