I recently read the book, Writing to Save the World, by Mary Pipher (because of course, this is what I aim to do), and in it she suggests we write an I Am From poem. She presented her’s and I fell in love with it. She also suggested starting a writers’ group that meets monthly to share new work. Since I was planning to start a teen-novel involving patriarchy, the divine feminine and contemporary culture, I decided to create the group, pulled some writer friends together and we named our group High Moon, where we get together one Monday night a month to howl our work at the moon! I suggested everyone write the I Am From poem for our first meeting and will share mine here, as it’s just about the best “about me” thing I could ever present. It’s deeply personal, but I’m at a place where I have nothing to hide and have no shame. I wrote a haiku last week which reads:
Our secrets are what shame us
So many secrets
I was thinking at the time, how I’ve been told by family, friends and the media that I need to hide so many things to be attractive to the opposite sex and to the world –my age, that I’m a recovered alcoholic, a recovered chain smoker, that I’ve done some psychotherapy (with excellent results, I might add), that I came down with nocturnal epilepsy when I was 36 and have suffered some 55+ grand mal seizures in my sleep — each like a major car-crash and I have no idea when nor if one may hit again, that I have a pet python named Draco – a living symbol of the divine feminine – who is a cuddle snake despite public opinion that snakes are evil — all these things society would have me be ashamed of, things that make me unattractive to a man — things I should hide. But really, this is not the kind of man I want to be with — not the society I want to please, so I’m not playing that shame game any more and I don’t care what anyone thinks or says. A few days ago I ran across this quote and knew immediately that this is exactly where I’m at:
“You need to claim the events of your life to make yourself yours. When you truly possess all you have been and done, which may take some time, you are fierce with reality” –FLONDA SCOTT MAXWELL
I am indeed fierce with reality and on this note, I share where I am From. I would like to share it as a spoken-word piece some day soon, but at this point I can’t get through it with out a lot of tears — tears of nostalgia and tears of how far I have come:
I AM FROM
© Nance Broderzen 8/25/13
I am from the Baltic Sea, from ancient Vikings,
from Frisia, Schleswig Holstein, Gross Wittensee, Shoenhagen,
the Isle of Föar, where the ancients carved a rock with my family shield and sir name
carved it with Leewer Duad üüs Slaaw.
Better to die than live as a slave.
I am from Omas and Opas over seas,
from lovers in the land of opportunity,
from Anna and Theo a.k.a. Ann and Ted
I am from one Nazi Opa and many anti-Nazis,
from bombed children in bomb shelters filled with screaming babies,
from children forced to heil Hitler in class.
I am from hungry children, from a butchered and roasted pet goat named Butza Butz.
I am from a romance and a long boat trip across the Atlantic,
from a promised farm that died with the heart attack that killed Unkle Jack,
that attacked Theo’s heart, killed his dream,
I am from the Gottlieb’s nanny and housekeeper
from under their wing with a job opportunity that taught a farmer
to type-set the local newspaper as he learned the language he was type-setting.
I am from “children should be seen and not heard,”
“Ve spanked dem vhen dey were too young to remember.”
“Ve control dem mit our eyes”
I am from red meat and potatoes, rolladen, frickasaien and rump roast,
half a cow in the deep freeze and saving egg cartons for local farm eggs.
I am from the forest and the creek, dark moss and ant wars.
from bridges over the Mississippi and drives in the country in a Ford Fairlane,
from corn fields, cattle and hog farm stenches, and prairie grass
from brownies, girl scouts, badges and camping —
thriving chartreuse weeds crawling on tree filled forests, nettles and mosquitoes,
sand castles on sand bars, sand castles on the shore of trailer park lakes.
–hiking the hills, sleeping under stars, lashing logs into tree houses and singing.
I am from a Libra and a Cancer,
from second hand smoke, cigars, pipes, Winstons and colon cancer.
I am from death too early,
from hospital visits and heart break,
uncertainty and chaos,
from “I read in a magazine dat children are raised by da time dey are 7.
You are 13 and 14. I am done.”
I am from rock quarry swimming, PBRs, Marlboro’s, whiskey –hashish and pot.
–from MDA, cocaine and joints laced with opium.
I am from Laramie, Wyoming, thin air, mountains, pale green ranch lands, and building more and more red blood vessels.
From Vedauwoo boulders piled into mountains with
keggers in cold mountain streams, magic mushrooms and cauldrons of elk stew.
I am from Santa Barbara and high insanity in the
most beautiful weather with no extremes,
nestled between Mountains and the Pacific where there’s no bourgeoisie.
I am from the Iowa City campus, a return to the heartland, and a liberal arts degree,
from Greyhound bus rides to Des Moines for a love I had little in common with.
I am from seeing every inch of Iowa and Nebraska, in a Renault Alliance lemon and rent-a-cars,
a giant lake and prairies of wild flowers, fields upon fields of mono-crops.
I am from Chicago, Rush Street and The Snuggery,
from suicide thoughts followed by an unplanned near-death experience that made me realize
“I want to live.”
I am from the Pacific Ocean and Pasadena,
Venice Beach and the yet to be developed canals,
from a psycho fiance, psychotherapy and leaving a psycho fiance.
I am from movie locations all over Los Angeles leasing lighting,
from fleeing the rat race to write in Toluca Lake,
from a screen-play that didn’t sell and an actor husband who couldn’t find work,
from raising a step-daughter as my own and loving her like blood.
I am from an anxiety attack and more psychotherapy, grand mal seizures, AA and WFS.
I am from heavy drinking and sobriety, heavy drinking and sobriety,
alcoholism and sobriety
from leaving a love who couldn’t stop drinking
because I couldn’t watch another man die.
I am from the Downtown Artwalk, Burningman and Soulon,
from bringing Divine Feminine energy to the people via a Royal python named Draco
after getting over my own irrational fear of snakes that I didn’t understand.
–from vegan potlucks and a raw vegan diet,
from chelating heavy metals out of my body and brain healing a disease modern medicine doesn’t cure,
from years of sobriety, books piled high on pre-patriarchal culture and a bookcase beyond physics.
I am from a shift in consciousness, a new voice rising,
a voice for the environment, for our grand children’s’ children,
a voice for the animals who do not speak our tongue.
I am from Gaia,
from death and rebirth and death and rebirth again and again and again,
from the spiral that is all there is,
I am from a warming planet in crisis.
I am on the battleground, planting seeds with my pen,
scattering them onto its blood-drenched soil.
Better to die in battle than live as a slave.
Leewer Duad üüs Slaaw.