“Uh-huh, Uh-huh, Yo, Yo…”

Writing prompt #1: “Where are you from?”

Where I’m From

(an exercise in imagery)

I am from rough cedar walls
that gave me a sliver if I rubbed them the wrong way.
I am from pomegranates as big as my head,
nibbling and savoring tiny seeds, dripping its red juice
in the grass and shadows of Autumn afternoons.
I am from jars and jars,
shelves upon shelves
of canned peaches and apricots-
their orange flesh pressed against the bumpy glass signature of “Ball” or “Mason” .
I’m from rolling down grassy hills, avoiding metal sprinklers at all costs,
and landing at the bottom wrapped in laughter and itchy grass.
I’m from an oasis, standing in the middle of the desert,
but you’ll find, instead of palm trees, they’re mostly fruit,
and instead of a freshwater pond, a pool surrounded with hot cement and brown tile,
and two automatic pool sweepers named “Bill” and “Ted”.

I am from dancing in the family room
to Captain and Tennille records
following the lead of my tall, lanky sister teaching me to find my first “moves.”
I am from Barbie afternoons and Fisher Price mornings,
from architectural masterpieces made from books and blocks
from forts of purple blankets,
(or, big brother traps for innocent baby sisters),
I am from a playroom, long and skinny, filled with toys, books, and magic.

I am from whole wheat and honey, peanut butter, and orange juice.
I am from sizzling onions crackling in my ears and wafting past my nose in the anticipation of dinner.
I am from kneeling with arms folded and then a tumultuous race to the table,
from licking my plate to call my “spot”
but still ending up with my small frame shoved to the middle,
sandwiched between at least two bodies on each side
on that long sturdy wood bench,
no way out.
I am from defending my food from older brothers.
I am from eating my vegetables in order to get dessert and crossing my fingers
in hopes that it didn’t have nuts or raisins.

I am from splashing and kicking,
from Marco and Polo,
from sharks and sardines,
from living a second life as a fish.
I am from loud, playful days and hushed cricket nights
with Mom’s final warnings of bedtime, checking each child down the row.
I am from the number ten.
I am from a place holding both love and chaos,
a wooden sculpture forever imprinted on my mind.
There, sitting at 3440 East Harmon, I am from trees and grass and water:
a large house of brick and cedar wood that sometimes
sneaks into my dreams,
blowing the familiar wooded scent through my mind,
flooding it with a thousand memories.

by Laura Archibald

Where are you from?

9 responses

  1. Lauren

    Laura! This is BEAUTIFUL!

    April 19, 2010 at 7:19 am

  2. Chelsea

    I love this! Brings back many memories of that house.

    April 19, 2010 at 8:39 am

  3. Wendy

    I love the licking-my-plate-to-claim-my-spot. Hilarious!

    What a great exercise, and what lovely writing.

    You are the best number ten I know.

    April 19, 2010 at 9:42 am

  4. Mariam

    Perfect La! Totally perfect!

    April 19, 2010 at 11:23 am

  5. Amy Eschenberg

    So which sister taught you your moves? I am picturing Joan with some serious 70’s moves!

    April 19, 2010 at 2:39 pm

    • mamacheetah

      Yes, it was Joan. And it wasn’t just Captain and Tennille. It was the Osmonds as well 🙂

      April 19, 2010 at 8:32 pm

  6. Guy F.

    La, you nailed it. I could smell the house again towards the end of your post. No wonder Jenn got teary when she read this. Thanks Sis!

    April 19, 2010 at 9:06 pm

  7. Joan

    What a great writer! You took me back in so many ways!! Rolling down the grass, the cricket nights, the masterpieces made of books and blocks and, of course, having my baby sister copy my “moves” as we had fun dancing together. It is a good night when that house appears in my dreams.

    April 20, 2010 at 10:33 pm

  8. Rachelle

    O.K. I admit that I never knew your house or you or any of your familyduring your childhood. The same way I never knew my husband during his, and yet there is such a familiarity from hearing the “folklore” of my husband’s youth that included so much about the Foutz’s. The Abbott’s love the Foutz’s and now that I am an Abbott I have also inherited that love. I probably shouldn’t write this but I think it is funny and hopefully it will be understood in spirit is being told. Our three year old loves changing her clothes multiple times a day but more often than not she is putting on a nightgown so it is not uncommon for Jon to come home in the middle or end of the day to Savanna in a nightgown. When this happens Jon usually greets her, “Well, hello Lois. How are you doing today?” The first time he did it I just stared at him like, “Who are you talking to? Did you forget her name?” and then came the explaination that growing up it was not uncommon to find his neighbor Lois Foutz in her “housedress” at any hour of the day.

    Laura I absolutely love your writing. Because I read your blog so much (although I don’t often comment) I feel like we are much better friends than we actually are. Kinda like watching Oprah since the 6th grade and feeling like I know her so well when actually if we met on the street she would think I was crazy when I started talking to her as if we were lifelong friends. Keep up the writing !

    April 22, 2010 at 10:11 am

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