This week calls for writing about where you come from–city/town, region, neighborhood. This is something I know a lot about since I authored four books about my northern New Jersey hometown (Images of America: Kearny, New Jersey; Kearny’s Immigrant Heritage; The Kearny Public Library and Its Town; and Legendary Locals of Kearny). But instead of writing a few paragraphs as instructed, I chose to write a poem with the anaphoric phrase, “I come from,” not unlike the George Ella Lyon poem so often used as writing prompt in schools and workshops.
I waxed poetic about the repurposed Schuyler estate property on which my block was built in 1925, Lenni Lenape land. I noted the industries that contributed to World War II and General Pershing’s visit to town to dedicate the World War I monument. I had to include the town’s heritage of British Isle immigrants whose descendants wore kilts and spats and squeezed “The Highland Fling” on bagpipes in the high school marching band. I would be remiss not to recall the Carnegie library. And above all, I had to highlight the town’s exit on the New Jersey Turnpike, 15W.
I took it down a notch to our house of white clapboard and either red or green trim, depending on my mother’s whim at the time, the brick stairs and stoops, and a porch perfect for playing jacks while it rained.
Where are you from?