They ask me where I’m from…I am from my grandmother and her flowered feed sack apron, singing “in the garden”, in the garden.
I am from the other grandmother, all humor and twinkling eyes, all apples and cinnamon.
I am from the smell of sassafras by the hanging gate beyond the driveway in the house by the cornfield.
I am from cake tins full of buttons.
I am from needles and threads…
and the grandmother we called Ma, crocheting on the porch, baby booties the size of peanuts, for the next tiny one who would soon join the parade.
I am from coffee cans pinging on the rocks at the river while we caught crawdads and counted minnows.
I am from the smell of sawdust from both grandfathers, and the fear of yellow jackets in the dusty sunbeams of the work shed.
I am from the well-oiled grinding of the treadle sewing machine and the full-chord dissonance of a train whistle late at night while I lay, tiny, in the Big Bed at my grandparents’ house.
I am from the storms that raged, the thunderstorms, through which my mother rocked me fearlessly, right out on the front porch with the lightning all around us, cradled in the fierce embrace of the rocking chair which now lives in my barn.
I am from these ancestors, the ones who came before, who watch me with their sad eyes when I walk among the graves and read their names. I feel their warm breath on my neck when I’m singing the old songs, and I feel their cool hands on my forehead to ease me from a fever.
I am from them and they walk beside me still.
I am from my sister’s shadow.
I am from the table at Thanksgiving where my parents welcomed the wild and wayward, the uncombed and bearded, the ne’er-do-wells who were far from home, they brought them to our table.
I am from In Yonder and Home Again, Home Again, Jiggity-Jog. I am from pipe-smoke and candy in jars, pipe-smoke as sweet as the West Virginia honeysuckle, hanging heavy in the air like the ghostly fog from those lost mountain creeks.
I am from my feet in the ocean and my heart in the mountains.
I am from all who came before me, Viola and Clarabelle, women who were fierce but gentle, Daddy Joe and L.B., the grandfathers with sawdust and nails in their pockets and a love for their families as stalwart and strong as Ironweed.
I am from these, Hard -working, rugged, and tender, and the ones before them.
I am from the old ways, and I carry them with me.
When someone asks me where are you from, this is my answer.
– Susanna Robinson. HashtagWV #101. May 2018.
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