“Where I’m From” – A Tribute Poem to George Ella Lyon

Where I’m from? 

Well, it’s complicated. 


It begins with the wooden stool bearing my name in big block letters, 

pastel hues chipped at the edges, 

surrounding two flowers and a butterfly. 

I’m from Mr. Yuck stickers sported on every bottle in the household: 

Suave Kids 3-in-1, Flintstones Gummy Vitamins, Pine-Sol. 

Bubblegum-pink liquids become four 200-milligram ibuprofens. 


I’m from the painted and etched stone set into the front yard, 

surrounded by vibrant green bushes, chocolate-colored mulch, 

and two ceramic statues of a little boy and girl. 

A hat protects her skin from the cracks of sun and time, 

a basket to collect her memories. 

As I purchase new samples of yellow citrine and obsidian, 

I think about her sometimes. 


I’m from the tiny inked letters of chapter books

that I began reading in first grade. 

My eyes poured over the words on the pages

while new stories poured into my mind. 

My imagination ran just about as wild 

as the rat’s nest that was my hair. 

Bangs, bobs, layers, highlights, blue, pink, copper.


I’m from the droplets of water sprayed onto my face

as our boat cuts through the waves.

A knife through unrefrigerated Kerry Gold butter

I longed to be under that water for as long as I could, 

living, breathing, flourishing, existing,

My happy place.

I’m from Patagonia, L.L. Bean, and REI

Branches etching new adventures into my skin

Splinters digging into my palm lines

Rolled ankles, mosquito bites, 

and the wish of a brighter tomorrow

beneath the brightest star. 


I’m from sodium chloride

Salt, tears, pain

Staining assignments, bedsheets, and shoulders

I’m from…

I’m from… 

Drawing a blank.

“How To Know If Your Friends Like You,” 

“How To Start Over,”

Sometimes I don’t want to be her anymore.

Sometimes I want to go back and tell her to stay quiet.

Never tell that girl that secret,

Never tell that boy you like him,

Never be who you are,

Fit in, fit in, fit in.


I only realize then that I would be throwing away

where I’m from.