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Original Poetry Where I'm From.... I’m from Wyoming homesteaders, the Kansas Chisholms and the Oklahoma Careys, from three years to sow 40 out of 320 acres and build a dwelling, from a one-room sod house to a four-room home rolled across the prairie on logs by horse power. I’m from windmills and water tanks, rattlesnakes and rabbits, from gophers and grasshoppers and hungry hawks circling above drought-stricken earth so dry it cracked, from week-long blizzards blanketing the countryside, freezing antelope herds in mid-stride. I’m from endless wind and coyote howls, from the happy call of meadowlarks and stubby cactus blooming in the springtime, from sweet yellow clover, sunflowers bobbing with the breeze and secrets of the past unfolding in the shape of an arrowhead. I’m from trips to the outhouse down the hill and to the water pump over the sandy path always on the lookout for snakes. I’m from grandpas in caskets and grandmas in baggy underwear, rolled stockings, sturdy black shoes and hairnets. I’m from their smiles and their laughter, their love of family, Gunsmoke and Charles Blair on TV. I’m from the weeping willow in Grandma’s front yard, but please don’t climb it, from oven-baked chicken, homemade bread and raisin cream pie. I’m from Uncle George, the pipe-smoking school-bus driver, and Helen, his loud, cafeteria-queen wife of the dangly earrings, who introduced Lawrence from the Wheatland Flats on the topside of Dickinson Hill to Carrol May from down under in Goshen Hole. I’m from a Scottsbluff, Nebraska, hospital and the dairy where my father labored. I’m from a stay-at-home mom who once worked for S&H Green Stamps and who waited for my father when the Army sent him to Korea, writing him letters almost every day. I’m from the sound of my mother giggling with her sisters as they fixed meals, washed dishes and perused the Sears catalog. I’m from the Carey brothers’ resonant chuckles and ribbing as they played cards in the trailer or fished for bass on Festo Lake. I’m from cousins near and far, one brother’s head caught on a nail, the other’s foot stabbed with a pitchfork, one sister’s nose stuffed with bachelor buttons, the other’s ears red with sunburn. I’m from Camp Grace every summer and a live pine tree every Christmas. I’m from a dog named Judy who bit the boy who chased my brother with a lawn mower, from cats named Bobby Socks and Mittens and my other brother’s bald mouse and escape-artist turtle that hid in corners and dried his shell to leather but somehow never died. I’m from mountains to the west and prairies flowing east to the Mississippi. I’m from wind blowing me to school and whooshing me home six hours later. I’m from a small class in a small school in a small town in a square state with fewer people than Denver. I’m from two brothers and two sisters to mother when ours was too busy, from mounds of family ironing at a nickel a piece. I’m from a piano-playing, meticulous, angry mother and a hard- working, absent father who read us bedtime stories when he could. I’m from a house so small I dreamed of a magical room above the ceiling or in the crawlspace below where I could escape the chaos and be alone. I’m from my hiding place high in the rustling cottonwood tree that shaded the corner of our block. I’m from rolling in the cool grass and counting falling stars, from watermelon-seed spitting contests, sheet lightning and golden nectar Kool-Aid. I’m from walking barefoot to the library and playing “kick the bucket” in the street until dark. I’m from sweet Mrs. Geortz’s pump organ and her dirt cellar, her treasure-filled shed and feral kittens, from sucking sour rhubarb stems and jumping on the spring-loaded wooden bed of the Voghts’ rusted old truck in their nearby backyard. I’m from bicycle crashes and a bathtub full of cucumbers, from backyard tetherball battles, teeter-totter bounces, scrap- lumber playhouses and hollyhock dolls. I’m from cattails spray- painted gold and tea parties beneath lilac bushes in full bloom. I’m from a bleak Baptist basement brightened by Mrs. Henman’s flannel-graph stories and do you want to ask Jesus into your heart? I’m from apple bobbing in that same basement, Sunday School, singspirations, memory-verse contests and Christmas plays. I’m from laundry frozen on the line and ice skating on Hitt’s pond, wearing baby-blue ice skates with silver laces and gray fur trim, breaking through the ice and sharing Wyoming breezes and cold peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with my three best friends. Where am I from? I’m from a wonderful western heritage, a good family and a happy childhood, from parents who loved me and did the best with what they knew and what they had. I’m from forever-faithful siblings and a God whose love and care has never left me nor let me down.

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