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Where I’m From


I am from
frame flats with steep staircases, lining city streets.
Daddy's eyes, sparkling. Momma's worries.
Baby sister, big brother.

The smell of yeast bread as I climb the narrow steps,
Cozy.
The smell of beer, always.
Cereal for breakfast,
peasant borscht for supper at 5.
On the back porch, tracing Sputnik across the sky.

Shame: "we don't say that."

I am from
Steelworkers Union 19806,
Bargaining rights and hoping for overtime.

Snowy drifts. Winter winds. Slow springs, long awaited:
lilacs in big dishes, coleus leaves and hollyhocks.

Moving - again.

Up north and cooler by the Lake,
Humid nights, thunderstorms crashing from east to west,
short, languid summers,
sheets fresh from drying in the sun.

I am from
hanging with the smart kids,
The Center Street Library,
laughter, and lots of tears.
Anger that never cooled. Warm and loving folks.

Books. Books. Books.

Old World people and me,
tiptoeing into the New World.

* "Where I'm From," Mary Elyn Bahlert, after George Ella Lyon,"Where I'm From" *








Photo by Mary Elyn Bahlert, May, 2022, Cedarburg, Wisconsin