From this writing exercise comes a shiveringly evocative set of freeverses:
And just to tag along…
Where I am From
I am from teakettle whispering,
from Digestive biscuits
and long, philosophical talks of an evening.
I am from the scent of late-summer grass under borealis dews.
I am from saskatoon bush,
alkaline prairie clay;
the rustle of poplar,
secret golden ladyslipper,
silvery spring creeks that disappear in the heat.
I am from learning by love and exploration,
and nervous concern over details,
from Caroline’s broken heart and great-uncle’s crabapples and long-ago unknown Irish Guinns.
I am from silent thoughtfulness
and contemplation, seated side by side.
From God is a crutch for the weak, but some need that;
and human kindness is its own reward.
I am from cold, hard logic which must touch to believe,
but shatters in the shocking grief of death’s grimace
in spite of thinking nothing is there.
I’m from les p’tites villes au l’est du Winnipeg,
from settler rogues on the lam
and Liverpool bombing survivors,
from the last merchant seamen of England
(we do not know why we love to tie knots in things);
roast beef and puds,
cold salads and pies at harvest,
wild raspberries found in the Manitoba bush.
From the gift-penny Great-Grandmother threw at the feet of her unloved son’s relatives;
his Taj-Mahal painted box she pawned away;
the canvas of oils he made as an old man, using my calendar’s iconic photo.
I am from the tarnished black-and-white of wed estrangers in occupied India,
a cottage by a mud-brown creek,
an elm-shaded city home with the faint tinge of British tobacco,
a small-town retirement constructed by my father out of places we no longer are.
I am from an ugly plastic box tucked beneath an end table,
loose, random memories layered over well-ordered envelopes.
From clicking Kodak wheels that have disappeared somewhere, taking the Parthenon and the VW van
and the six-month walking tour with them.
(I am Little Metric, conceived in Europe.)
I’m from the shiny brown hassock full of vintage Beatles vinyl.
From the needle-scratch of modems
delivering pixelated expressions of
Pakistan and China, Australia and Israel,
framing familiar, beloved faces in a flatscreen glow.
I’m from the scent of antique books tucked beneath the farmhouse attic’s fir trusses;
an internet archive of childhood moments in UTF-8.
From a sparkling Canadian lake where a heartsick Yorkshire war bride dipped her feet and posed a smile.
Where prisoners of war were interned as labourers,
and my children now sail in freedom.
I am from dichotomies.