As much as I’d like to put it off, I can’t hold out any longer: I’m in the middle of getting my lessons together for going back to school in ten days. Even though it will be the start of the second quarter for my students, it will be like the first day of school for me, since I won’t know any of them. One of the things I like to do with my 9th graders at the beginning of every school year is a “Where I’m From” poem. It’s relatively simple (fill-in-the-blank template, based on George Ella Lyon’s original) and produces some pretty cool poems – a great way for kids to feel successful early on AND it helps me get to know them a bit. This year, I’m going to take it one step further and have them create imovies out of their poetry, adding images and music to their words.
Additionally, ever since I participated in the Minnesota Writing Project and read Kelly Gallagher’s book, Write Like This*, I’ve tried to model my own writing for the kids first, based on his: I write, You write philosophy. With that in mind, I’m going to share my sample poem today, which I wrote from the new perspective of being Dylan’s mama, and which I’ll eventually put to music and pictures to share with my students when I return.
WHERE I’M FROM
I am from diapers: from pre-folds, all-in-ones, and wool soakers.
I am from the tiny house on the Rum River: ancient & creeky; fuzzy warmth of a fleece bathrobe; spiced cookies and hot apple cider.
I am from the knotted maple tree, the forked birch tree, and the bright, magenta beets our dogs dug up, staining paws and snouts.
I am from the bath-book-bedtime routine and big hands; from sleepless nights, blue eyes, and reddish hair. From Joshua Edward, Dylan Michael, and Houlihan-Belanger.
I am from overreacting: a jutting lower lip, a terrific pout, and secret smiles in the middle of nursing.
From You Are My I Love You and Goodnight Moon.
I am from the shared backyard blessing on a beautiful August morning: burnt sage, holy water, Desiderata, Forever Young, In the Name of the Father and the Son…
I’m from Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis, MN and Irish-German roots; from homemade chocolate chip cookies mailed from New Jersey, and lasagnas and enchiladas and chicken dinners brought from excited friends and family.
From the night we called the midwives to say something wasn’t right:
From the NICU: the beeps and cords and crying, and the sweet relief of a breathing baby.
I am from camera phones and computers, hearts and minds, documenting every sneeze and hiccup along the way.