I am from mud pies,
from old stone walls and leaf-buried granite boulders.
From kickball and the tire swing
and skates still skittering on swamp ice
deep in the woods at twilight.
I’m from Gorky’s Mother and Goya: Frescos
bookshelves spanning the walls.
Sam, Bangs and Moonshine and The Railway Children
on Mom’s lap, read aloud.
I’m from a metallurgist and a sculptor
From Bengal, and Cambridge, and the Town of Harvard.
I’m from fine public schools, conserved land, and history.
From lay-offs, high taxes, and rusting chassis.
I’m from shattered plates, gravel spitting, and dust motes swirling down.
I’m from the end of the driveway,
Formica, canvas cots, and Rice-a-Roni
I’m from If-I’d-been-better, and Maybe-they’ll-get-back-together, from Tell-your-mother, Tell-your-father, and
I’m from Miss Johnson’s first grade, Mrs. Turner’s fourth,
from Oberlin College
Shakespeare, Folklore, and Geology.
I’m from Columbia University, where I learned to write poems.
I am from teachers who welcomed me
into a thinking community.