36/365: Where I Was From When I Was Twenty-One (The Nostalgic Possession of Ghosts)

I was from an old couch that lost its legs in the move, from Gauloises cigarettes that gripped my throat to lower my tone, and hope for futures running out from a point in which I had no faith.

I was from an illegal basement apartment with root-bound pipes and low ceilings, cold through the heat of July and grey, an afterthought mocked up below a coal shute.

I was from an overgrowth of caragana bushes snapping out seeds in the heavy heat of a late August day, the hydrangeas overrun with ants that bled up from the soil, pooling angry in the gathered petals.

I was from the claustrophobic ritual of Sunday lunches and the retelling of family stories from last week and month and year, from Rachel and Jill and the ghost of a grandmother whose family heart stole her before my birth.

I was from the stoic refusal of the free spirit and the celebration of the 4/4 march through brown hymnals that directed us to sing the mighty power of God who made the mountains rise.

From my grandfather's unnatural strength and the subdued but rigid assurance that I would never possess it.

I was from devotions over food and holidays and prayers for people we tolled out in lists for God to bless. I was from musty, black books written in the old German with names and dates of lives and deaths pencilled in thick lines on the flyleaf.

I was a generation away from an alkali town pegged out by poplars and elms, sweet pluma moos and buttered bologna sandwiches with orange cheese laid out on collapsible hall tables to the clacking rhythm of Melmac plates and plastic forks.

From lost things found with little more motion than a finger to a temple, the calf Herta saw with her second sight, and the infallible tea leaves she read before fate knocked the fear into her.

I was from the soft, waved edges of decades-old photographs, since farmed out or rendered in fire but not forgotten by my fingertips, which traced their sides once in a house no longer ours and, even then in my arrogant and callow twenty-first year, remembered well with the nostalgic possession of ghosts.

#365poems at Schmutzie.com


George Ella Lyons' poem called "Where I'm From" inspired Fred First Floyd's form, which I used here.

I used this form early in June 2011, as well, for "Where I Was From When I Was Seven: Bearing Down Upon The Buoy".

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