For a community builder this year, I tried something new by teaching a model text (“Where I’m From“) that students had to analyze and replicate. This was first and foremost a way for us all to share our stories and build connections with each other; the year’s learning will be built on those connections. It was also a way for me to pre-assess students’ poetry knowledge and introduce some important vocabulary for the year. Today we shared our poems in Circle–a Council practice we’re incorporating school-wide. Here’s mine.
“Where I’m From”
By Mrs. Davenport
I am from ivy wallpaper climbing up yellowed walls
From smoky fingers of cigarette haze and pungent Old Spice.
I am from the asymmetrical boxy house on the corner with the endless-to-be-
Where all my friends gathered for salty chips and high-fructose-corn-syrup-cookies.
I am from the spiraling green helicopters dancing to their rebirth
In the earth
And the liquored-fragrance of the blooming lilac bush.
I’m from Christmas Eve appetizer buffets in the corner of the cramped kitchen,
Served with the bitter taste of repressed anger,
From John David and Molly Aletha Mike,
From martyrdom and submission,
And from peacemaking the in-betweens.
I’m from “a watermelon will grow in your belly if you swallow that seed”
And “when it rains it pours” and “go apologize to your mother”
And from the low sway of “Locomotive.”
I’m from the children’s table—not the adult’s table—
At Thanksgiving and Christmas.
I’m from Chicago’s public schools then redeeming suburban schools,
And West Virgininian hills of Ireland,
Deviled eggs sprinkled with paprika and Mom’s famous peanut butter balls,
From sad Dad looking at his diseased and dying Mom through a metal fence
And barefoot strong Mom walking the hills of hidden mountain lions to school—
I’m from 31 Flavors of ice cream and swing sets,
And from the postcards of a thousand unmet dream vacations.