by Susannah Sharpe Cecil
after George Ella Lyon
I am from boys and bike ramps,
from curly hair, unruly in the damp heat, cut short for taming.
I am from flower beds and rich loam; growth of things unseen.
I am from mud between my toes, sand in my bathing suit, sunburn and oysters.
I am from peanut butter and jelly; plain, salty chips, and chocolate cake for
I am from summertime and beaches,
From “Jiiim!” bringing watermelon, sliced on shaded boardwalks, and who can spit that black, slick seed farthest?
I am from Southern femininity and wisdom,
from Women teaching Bridge until midnight, while others sleep;
I am from father whose tenacity and voice is sometimes my own; mother whose
steadfastness and ease, my undergirding.
I am from My People: complex and determined, easy with laughter, nimble with
affection; whose unflinching devotion is proof of love, and stubbornness.
I am from My People: whose generosity tips toward fault, whose passion winds
so deeply as to rise from the very helix of my being;
A People who honor that from whence they’ve come, who lavish in the present,
and believe fiercely in potential, and future.
I am individual, free to explore and roam; try, succeed, or fail.
I am one, just one; but I am from My People.
Susannah S. Cecil is a licensed professional counselor and yoga instructor in Clemmons, North Carolina. She writes fiction and nonfiction and has published in her local women’s magazines as well as instructional material. She has a husband, three children and a Jack Russell Terrier named Otis. According to her, this poem, written after a Memorial Day family reunion, “is an attempt to distill the essence of my Southern family heritage into 21 lines of images, sounds & emotion.” Read her story Virgin Snow, published in 2011, here.