I enjoyed working on this poem, but found it challenging in some ways, as I had to grope for ideas for a few of the items. However, most came easily, and I found myself smiling, and even laughing as I reflected on memories of days gone by. I encourage everyone to give this a try, and to share it with your family members, too. :)
Here's my poem:
I am from the historic neighborhood of Aberdeen, paved streets, big yards, filled with children playing while mammas watched from every window, and where you’d better get home before those street-lights come on. I'm from playing on the "Big Hills", waiting for the Ice-Cream Man or "The Truck", and from where switches came off trees faster that you could get the last disrespectful word out of your mouth.
I am from azalea bushes and crepe myrtle trees, and from my grandma’s prized roses.
I am from holding hands during mealtime prayers, and perservering above the odds; From Anna Beatrice GREEN and Mary DAVIS and YARBOROUGHS, DUNSTONS, HILLS, and BROWNS. And, like it or not, I’m also from HAWKINS.
I am from the head-strong and faithful. I’m from, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all.” And, “Pretty is, as Pretty does.”
I am from Baptists, and Presbyterians, and from the foot-stomping, dancing-in-the-aisle United Holy Church. I’m from folks who love the Lord with all our hearts, souls, and all that is within us!
I'm from Cleveland, Ohio, by way of Louisburg, Halifax, and Warren Co., NC, Norfolk, VA, and somewhere in Africa where people spoke the Bantu languages and watched their families torn apart, chained, and loaded onto ships like somebody’s cargo. I’m from Nigeria, where my ancestors walked proudly, heads up – backs straight, until that fateful day when they were forced to bend by men whose descendants would one day be kinfolk.
I’m from blue-crabs steamed in vinegar and seasoned with Old-Bay; I’m from collard greens and macaroni-and-cheese, with hot, buttered corn bread on the side.
From Anna Green, a runaway transplant who loved and was loved by Nathaniel Hawkins (a negro trader), and bore six kids by him; from Arthur P. Yarborough, who worked his way up to the rank of Major in the United States Army, only to be cheated out of his next promotion by the stronghold of racism.
I am from the house my grandfather built in Louisburg, the property my grandmother and mother fought to keep in Norfolk, from the last house on the left on the corner lot in Granger Court. I’m from the metal safe box which always sat on the top shelf of my parents’ closet, but now rests in mine. I’m from photo albums filled with pictures of the known and unknown, from manila folders labeled with surnames and CD-roms that hold pictures and documents that provide proof of my history.
I’m from all of this, and so much more. I’m from America.