I am from chickens and Massey tractors
from Sugar Pops, Velveeta cheese
and Welch’s grape juice with pop.
I am from an oasis
– a cream house, red barn, silver Quonset
surrounded by caragana hedges and two pines –
on the Saskatchewan prairie.
I’m from the sandbox-and-slide
the railway track
and the Log Cabin Bush.
I’m from always being on time and knowing how to draw
from the Sperlings and the Giesbrechts,
Walter and Albertine, Peter and Helena, Jacob and Maria and Tena
from the country and the town,
from farming and store-keeping.
I am from learning the names of birds and flowers
and how to play an instrument
from working first and playing later
from cleaning eggs,
weeding huge gardens
and washing the cream separator in lukewarm, slimy water.
from fishing with grasshoppers
and eating caramel-coated apples on fall picnics.
I am from being able to recite
all of “This is the House that Jack Built”
by the time I was two
reading under the covers till 3:00
and being the bossy big sister of eight
from riding in a three-seater stationwagon
so we could all fit inside
and hating it when people
would stare, point and count– to eleven.
I am from the Mennonites
from a tradition of unbending non-resistance
and rich harmonious singing
from baptisms in the North Saskatchewan River
and Children’s Day in the summer
from a row of girls
sitting on hard wooden benches
giggling through the German sermon
then getting what-for when I got home.
I’m from the farm four miles north of town
(that being Dalmeny
– not Mennon, Warman or Osler
and especially not Martensville).
I am from a table groaning with verenicky
cream gravy and farmer sausage,
or rull-kuchen and watermelon,
or zwiebach, cheese, jam, dill pickles and pie,
always with weak coffee.
I’m from the green wagon,
the Peters’ dog
a galloping horse
and Kenny sawing on the reins
for half a mile down the road,
from teasing Harvey till he ran away from school
and noticing how Mr. Krahn tapped with his ruler
when he got angry
then tapping back.
I’m from the black-paged photo album
from the earthy smell of impending rain
the vinegar fragrance of simmering pickles
and the reassuring aroma of ripe wheat on harvest nights.
I am from the convergence of a 40-watt moon
the tinge of wood smoke in the air
and the far-off whistle of a train
calling to me: Remember. This is where you are from.
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