"Where I'm From" by Marina Powell

Adaptation of George Ella Lyon's "Where I'm From"

Ferrum College, 2022
Selected for AppLit by Abigail McGovern, editor of Chrysalis Literary and Arts Magazine

You can read George Ella Lyon's poem "Where I'm From" on her web site, and listen to her read it. She was inspired by another great Appalachian writer, Jo Carson, and the people in her book of poems Stories I Ain't Told Nobody Yet (Poem 22 includes the lines "But honey, where are you from?" and "You're not from here are you?," and lines that begin "I am from....") Lyon's web site provides ideas for using this poem to inspire your own writing, and links to poems and videos by students in different places and many Kentuckians.

Marina Powell is from Russia, and now lives in Franklin County, VA. She is a music major and a member of the Boone Honors Program at Ferrum College (in 2022, when this poem was written in Dr. Lana Whited's creative writing class). She is also on the staff of Chrysalis and is an assistant editor for The Iron Blade college newspaper. Marina likes running, art, writing, rock music, and her dog. Marina's story "The Last Rose" is also reprinted in AppLit at this link.

See other poems in this tradition in the Fiction and Poems index of this web site, including the page "Where I'm From" Poems by Ferrum College Students. Some poem excerpts from Ferrum's Appalachian cluster students and Dr. Rathin Basu's Business Communications class were presented at the Appalachian College Association Summit in October 2009 (pdf copy of one PowerPoint slide at this link).

Where I'm From

By Marina Powell
I’m from nothing.

I have only my name and the dark snow.

I’m from them staring at me and telling me I’ll never be anything.

I’m from a room full of lonely little hearts and children that rock themselves to sleep because no one else will.

I’m from words that should be familiar, but they were taken away from me.

I’m from a cold cathedral and crimson everywhere.

I’m from one woman walking away in the cold and maybe she was crying, but maybe she wasn’t.

Oh but I’m from the ones that chose to love me even though they didn’t have to.

I’m from the pictures they still keep in a worn-out bible, and the stories they tell over pumpkin pie. I’m the one everyone said could never be, but here I am.

I’m from the music in my head. I’m from drumsticks and worn out six strings and laying my head on cold black and white keys.

I’m from the ones that were nothing and became something anyway. I’m from the ones who were told they’d never make it but made it anyhow.

I’m from the ones that cared when no one else did. I’m from the ones that sweat blood because they won’t live a half-life.

I’m from a crowded airport full of tired people and the joined hands of the ones who waited for me. And I’m from the worries and fears of those who sacrificed to get me where I am. Oh yes, I’m from fighting.

I’m from the ones that stay up late and get up early and get up and get up but never give up.

And I’m from the flowers they had at the funeral, and the rain and lightning, and wilted orange blossoms that smelled like pain. I’m from the hands that reached for me in the dark. I’m from a scarlet cross.

And I’m from get out of my way, and I’ll make it because I have to. I’m from not caring if they all get it or not, because my life is not for them.

And if I’m from the dark, then I’ll be the light. And if I am a story, then I’ll make it mine.

And you will remember my name. And I swear by the snow and the hurt and the dark: my children will know where they came from.

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