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Poetry: Where I’m From: Lexington, North Carolina

Out of the Sandbox

By Dr. Jeanna Ojeda

CC Jeanna Janice street bikingJeanna Toddler

I am from seeing the world and people from a perch high above, hidden in massive oak trees
From spying on ants building anthills, catching grasshoppers and fireflies in cupped hands
Watching lazy cows and horses stroll the land and graze, behind the fence in back of our home
Tobacco fields and cornfields, family farms, rolling hills of green grass, multicolored wildflowers
I am from factories, assembly lines, humans robotically constructing batteries, bottling condiments.

I am from Friday night football games, hotdogs & peanuts, charcoal grill fires on Sundays
Early morning smells of brewed coffee, sizzling bacon, scrambled eggs, and peppered corn grits
Musty sweet cedar-chest scents on sheets and pillows, deep sleeps in the soft bed at Grandmother’s
Freshly-mowed grass of Saturday morning summers & housecleaning scents because of “no excuses”
From sweet cherry wood church pews blending with the thinly fragranced pages of hymnbooks
Sweet, sour, salty—ever-drifting from the kitchen of a well-practiced “Southern cook” like Mama
I am from cinnamon, nutmeg & clove aromas, especially around Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays
Waxed wood from shiny hardwood floors Mama covered in wax circles, down on her knees.

I am from crickets and cicadas, buzzing bees, and shrill high-pitched calls of the red cardinal
From a quiet home where arguments stayed in low voices & doors never got slammed on purpose
Silent soft snowfalls that came in January, or if we were lucky, just in time for Christmas
Crackling fires with sparks bursting intermittently from real wood logs in the fireplace
From roads filled with children playing and sounds of barking dogs chasing bicycles
The thump, thump, thump of the pogo stick, and counting to see who could jump to a hundred.

I’m from proverbs “Silence is golden,” “Time is money,” and “Patience is a virtue”
Sounds of knocking on doors, door bells, and Grandmother’s shout out of “hooey” in joyful greeting
From Mama’s morning “Sleepyhead” song, and Daddy’s “Night-night, sleep tight, don’t let the bedbugs bite” in two regional North Carolina accents
Southern accents that newcomers and outsiders always struggled to decipher
From slow romantic lyrical music and love songs that turned into Beatles’ song in the 70s.

I’m from feeling the cold of a mountain stream running across my bare feet
Restless sticky-hot humid summer nights, open windows, still air, flipping pillows to cool them
Soft tall grasses & smooth hot tarred streets underfoot & the squish of soft mud through bare toes
From the rush of the wind when biking down hills, the vroom engine power from a go-cart & dirt bike.

I’m from tall glasses of fresh-brewed sweetened iced-tea
Chicken & dumplings rolled out on a floured counter, cooked to steamy perfection
Chipped-beef gravy stirred until bubbly in cast-iron skillets and poured over piping hot biscuits
Wintertime fresh-grated coconut cream cake & summertime pineapple-coconut-banana-nut cream pie
From golden-crusted juicy fruit pies and cobblers—apple, peach, blackberry, sour cherry
Coleslaw with a dash of black pepper, sugar, and plenty of apple cider vinegar for zing
Green beans and corn, okra, Salisbury steak, spinach, collard greens, Brussels spouts
Casseroles, casseroles, casseroles—chicken & broccoli, sweet potato, chicken & rice
From hand-sized slices of homegrown tomatoes, dripping with salted sweet goodness
And old-fashioned oats, sweetened with just enough blackstrap molasses
From pulling off pieces of piping hot “Monkey Bread” until the last one is gone
From winning the long end of the wishbone & dreams coming true.

I am from those moments.

Inspired by George Ella Lyon’s “Where I’m From”
For more information see the below links, accessed on 10/19/2014



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