25 September 2014

Where I'm From

I'm from paved over cow paths 
leading to a central common
where modern stands side by side with
historic and holds the pride of hub to the rest.

My people came here from elsewhere
and left the map of those lands on my face
so I never quite fit, didn't look like most others.
My wandering ancestors

came from other places searching
for what they thought more important
than home, willing to make a new home
rather than live without, or who were driven

out by those who wanted what they had.
It all left its mark, so I call one place home
but search ancestral homelands to find
those left pieces of me to make me whole.

Meanwhile, my displaced people displaced others
to claim what they had, as if one could have
what another had by the wish or the taking.
My heritage is immigrant and for how long homeless?

For Poets United with the theme of Heritage Day. I took the photo in Boston during a visit in August.


  1. I love your take on the prompt...how homelessness can feel even if housed...and a face that doesn't fit and always feels displaced I can certainly empathise with

    1. It's made more present because I've lived out of the US for the last 7 1/2 years. That and recent trips to my ancestors' homelands where I realized many people looked like me with their red hair and freckles.

  2. Well done, Mary. I think we are all children of immigrants and displaced people. At least I know I am. Your poem spoke to me. Thank you. :-)

    1. We in the US are immigrants for the most part but in visiting Ireland, especially, I realize people there have a deep sense of rootedness.

  3. A great contrast is presented between that deep yearning "........to find / those left pieces of me to make me whole." and the story of the displaced displacing others...

    1. It's the other side of immigration, certainly in the US.

  4. The face helps us trace--so does DNA these days--but for wandering tribes the heritage lies in stories and that facial map. I believe that most of the Middle East started that way--at least the Bible and other sources lead me to that conclusion. And I see that in my face too--the mixture of the steppes of Eurasia and Caucasion and Hun. I like your opening image of farmlands and the mix of old and new, the reasons for leaving what has come to be home and the search for a beginning. Greatly provocative poem. Thank you.

    1. I liked this prompt, Susan. For me it's the Irish/Scottish mix and ancestors driven from their land. How brave they were.

  5. The need to find our roots runs deep, as you so eloquently express.

  6. So moving... heritage is about finding roots...
    I love 'My heritage is immigrant and for how long homeless?'
    But heritage is also about acceptance, isn't it?

    1. Yes, roots, acceptance and building our own life.


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