I Am From Unhurried Talkers

Julie and her brother, 1964.I am from unhurried talkers and folktale weavers, from Sunday school-goers and jailhouse dwellers. I’m from Southern indirectness and civil religion, from Bless your heart and God’s on our side.

I am from wooden clothespins
and sheets smelling of sunshine.
I am from coal dust, home brew
and the company store.
From “be a sweet little girl”
and “that’s not ladylike.”

I am from Big Penn, Bahbra-Ann
and darling Brother.
From Grandpas that burned in the mine
and Grandma-That-Goes-To-Work.

I’m from the Air Force vagabond life,
the seven-schools-in-ten-years life.
From commissary groceries
and “Oh, say can you see” before the movie begins.

I’m from Little Golden Books and Green Eggs and Ham,
from the Itsy Bitsy Spider and Zacchaeus was a wee little man,
from Laura Ingalls Wilder and Trixie Belden by flashlight.

I’m from giving my life to Jesus during Mission Impossible.
I am from Mom’s sweet piety and Dad’s pack of smokes,
from John Three Sixteen and nickel slots at Tahoe.
I’m from hold-em-under baptisms and grape juice thimbles,
from lowbrow hymns and Evangelism Explosion.

I am from anxious and butterflies and nail-bitten hands.
From straight-A’s and can’t do pull-ups,
from “mentally gifted” and chubby thighs.

I’m from Goo Goos and Yoo Hoos and ice-cream-headaches.
From Vitameatavegamin and the Three Hour Tour.
From hot rollers and halter tops and green shag carpet.

And oh mama, I am from vinyl. From 33’s and 45’s
and a dime on the needle so it doesn’t skip. From Abby Road
and American Pie, from Doobies and Eagles and Carlos Santana.

I’m from the warm-bath ocean and the not-even-in-a-wetsuit ocean.
From Redneck Riviera and Giant Sequoias,
from orange blossoms and oleanders and Steinbeck’s vineyards.
From Louisiana lush and San Joaquin baked.

I am from open arms and waiting laps, from sugar baby,
sweetie pie and Love you before hanging up.

I’m from Give all of yourself you can to all of the Christ you know.
From Grace abounds 
and from God’s got your back.
From Death, where is your victory?
and The greatest of these is Love.

I am from all of this and acres more.
But today, as leaves come down and memories rise up
and the bulldog sighs under the table . . .
what I’m mostly from is Gratitude.

This is part of the SheLoves synchroblog “I Am From”.  
Jump in with your own story!

You Wore Hotpants

il_570xN.156101663Hip-huggers as I recall
with a peace sign
belt buckle riding low.
So altogether different
from the other sixth grade teachers
in their cardigans and tweed.

You were radiant in paisley,
colossal hoops swinging
from your earlobes,
calves planted like tanned
warriors in white vinyl boots.

Even your name signaled
change in the air.

Call me Ms. Petker
you announced to the class.
Mizzz Petker.
Not Mrs, not Miss.

Dear, splendid Ms. Petker:
for all I know the principal,
cowed by your greatness,
showed you the door come June.

For all I know Mister Petker
was a dictatorial oaf in his boxers
demanding another beer.

No matter.

You were a herald,
a seer, a torchbearer.
You taught us the active voice,
the topography of California
and R-E-S-P-E-C-T.

I waited my turn,
polite like I’d been taught,
then raised my hand.

You held my trembling fingers
and curled them
in the shape of a fist.

Sock it to me, Ms. Petker.
Sock it to me.
Sock it to me forever.

© Julie Pennington-Russell