A cup of coffee and a conversation.
by: George Ella Lyon
I am from clothespins,
from Clorox and carbon-tetrachloride.
I am from the dirt under the back porch.
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.
I have struggled with this poem. Not the reading of it, or the understanding of it, but writing my own version.
As a teacher and a writer, I use mentor texts all the time. The inspiration and springboard to my own writing on the shoulders of a published and admired writer. This is a practice I am familiar with.
The moment of enlightenment came in a 6th grade class in a trailer in the middle of downtown Gary.
To learn about your students this activity can be done the first week of school.
Students can write their own version on their own life.
Another variation is for students to pull their favorite lines from their own and then mix them with favorite lines from the collective of the class to write a collaborative version.
Where are you from?
Where I’m From and Where I’m Not
I’m not from here
Everyone turns away from something
I’m not from here. I’m not from anywhere.
It is easier to live that way.
I am from eipanancake and brotchen
I am from “It’s your responsibility”.
I am from the broken mother daughter relationship
I am not from southern Illinois.
I am not from Ivy league.
I am not from the MFA.
I am from parents that stayed together.
I am from grandparents that nurtured me.
I am not from the mountains.
I am not from money.
I am not from Leipzig but my Oma was.
I am from the lettuce, the cucumbers and the radishes in the garden
I am from Clorox bleach
I am from desk sets and pens and stationery.
I am really from somewhere else.
There is a town I belong to, but am not on the register.
But am I really?
Tammy L. Breitweiser is currently a curriculum coach in Northwest Indiana where she is dedicated to impacting student achievement in grades 3–6. With 24 years of experience, she is a reading advocate who believes reading is the gateway to life. As an accidental inspirationalist, she is always conjuring words; usually in the form of short stories. You can connect with on Twitter @tlbreit or You can sign up for her newsletter here.