Where I’m From

I am from frames filled with faces,
hanging crooked on off-white walls
doors slamming loudly with anger but
creaking with forgiveness
From black hair woven deeply in carpets 
and a shedding broom that weeps
Ashy incense spilling into bowls of water, 
gold paper used as currency
I’m from dangled coins clinking in the fall
rice soaked in broth and meaty chicken legs
hidden indications of love
From the bold tsov tom to a soft me naib 
(and some Hmonglish in between)
I am from 19 first cousins: the Yangs, Lees, Lors
Can’t count how many candles
and gained years that are lost with each slice 
Packed driveways, Christmas lights year-round
bonfires burning math packets
and games with fake rules
Bounded gardens strung with beans,
decorated with herbs
Wedding gifts stay unopened… just like the next
Moving back, not visiting 
I am from comfort
That familiar scent

This summer, I had the opportunity to work as a summer tutor for Upward Bound in a Language Arts classroom of seven sophomores. They received an assignment to write a poem about where they are from, based off of Ms. George Ella Lyon’s original poem, which you can read here. The students described different parts of their childhood and created images about where they live(d). The poem is used to share family foods, things that represent their culture, common pastimes and family sayings. I am not a poet by any means (in fact, this is one of the first poems I’ve written since middle school), but I was very inspired by my summer UB students and I love the idea of reliving nostalgic moments of my life.



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