Where I’m From

This weekend, I had the opportunity to participate in an author launch retreat for writers of color (hosted by The Voices Project and Kilns College). One of the sessions was led by Allison Fallon, and she walked us through a powerful writing activity about finding our voice as writers. The activity involved mentally revisiting our childhood home; after a few minutes of entering into the activity, I (and others in the group) realized that we were venturing down a rocky path. After we were done, Allison invited volunteers to read our pieces aloud to the group. I volunteered. Even though I knew my piece was unfinished, there was something “magical” (for lack of a better word) about speaking the words into existence. That night and the next morning, I continued to hear new images and phrases that wanted to be added. I took time on the airplane to rework and flesh out the piece, and that’s what I’m sharing with you today.

P.S. Check out an audio version of the piece.

I am from the machete that cut sheet cakes and chopped weeds.

I am from Alaga syrup,

  lime green easy chairs

  and fried Spam and eggs on toast.

I am from homemade jellies and jams,

  pineapple upside down cake,


  hot water cornbread

  and “gov’ment” cheese.

  The purple and gold Crown Royal bag filled with change

  and the big gold covered Holy Bible that leads to change.

  Hymns and Marvin Gaye.

  House too full, house too loud.


I am from, “Girl, you slower than molasses in January!”

  and “Yall don’t believe fat meat greasy”

  and “Yall be quiet in there, and go to sleep!”

  The sizzle of the hot comb meeting thick hair,

  “Hold your ear down.”

  “Ooo, girl, look at them kitchens!”


I am from doxologies

  and decorating the fake Christmas tree.

  Birthday cake and ice cream

  and generic “puffa puffa wheat.”

  Dad’s homemade egg nog

  and Nat “King” Cole on the record player.

  Roller skates and Funkytown.


I am from the mind of God,

  a precious child created in the Creator’s image;

  created to create.


I am from hand-me-down clothes,

  handed out food

  and a handed down faith.

  “Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us.

  Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us.

  Facing the rising sun of a new day begun,

  let us march on ‘til victory is won!”