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Where Are You From

Keshia Sophia Roelofs

A version of George Ella Lyon's original piece, 'Where I'm From.' I wish I could take full credit for its structure but alas I can only lay claim to the words. This was the result of an exercise for a creative writing course yet it's a poem that remains one of my most intimate and personal. It's a question I must tackle too regularly and one I often dread since my first answer is rarely accepted. This poem reminds me of my true roots and in doing so gives me power. 

I am from incense,

from titillating smells and hand-woven wall hangings.

I am from the overgrown grass and unattended bushes. 

(Green, and tangled,

my own secret jungle). 

I am from the unbeaten track,

the nearby bay

whose intimate bellow I remember

as if calling me back home. 

I am from kinder surprises and close bonds, 

                  from adopted families and mother's friends.

I am from constant sleepovers

                  and late-night laughing.

From frustrated adults and dreaded bold chairs. 

I'm from tediously practised handwriting

               morning prayers

               and spellings I can do by myself. 

I am from holidays and worldwide visits,

free spirits and the travelling soul. 

From the aunt and grandmother who lost their

fight to cancer. 

The constant affection my mother keeps for me always. 

An attic holds our boxes

of decade-old letters,

and moments caught in time,

to gaze upon in nostalgic phases. 

I am from these moments --

captured in my fleeting youth --

marred by the footprints laid before me.