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  • I am from the house my grandfather built underneath a cork tree, from sweet iced tea and swimming all summer nursing sunburns playing Little Mermaid in the pool.

    I am from a house that is filled with the ghosts of those I lost, my ancestors with their pipe smoke and snowy winters, murals of viking ships and Pippi Longstocking.

    I am from Hydrangeas and the Japanese maple tree my grandmother carried with her as seedlings from the East, the flowers she called weeds no one wanted but me. I am from 'don't ever talk about what happened' and pale skin, from my beloved Aunt and The Danish Nielsons and French/Irish lost people. I am from the silent cold and coming over frightened on a ship from distant lands. From the "she may have never hugged anyone but you knew she loved you" and the picture of her beloved I found after she died that we do not know the name of that was not my grandfather.

    I am from put on your shoes and go spread the word I never wanted to spread, where they always push and never listen, speaking only of guilt and shame until my body rose like smoke above it all where they could not reach me.

    I'm from The Golden Sunsets and salt water sandals, The snowy mountains, the sea between this world and my ancestors, pale dancers, lost souls, hard workers, women in housedresses who always wore lipstick and earrings, lost family members with rich native stories. Biscuits and gravy, carmelized carrots in pot roast on Sundays, black bottom pie, abelskivers, my grandmothers hands rolling out dough getting caught in her big rings I loved.

    From the sound of my grandmother hitting the floor and never coming back, my grandfather being zipped up and taken away, my mother counting her change from her waitress job on weekends to buy us groceries, my father driving away and never looking back, my aunt like a flower at the end of summer wilting and going back into the soil without a sound....I am from the cedar chest that scented all the yellowed photographs, sepia lost family members breathing their words to me. I am from the power of my grandmothers hands as she chops wood- I am the gentle sound of my grandfather singing Danish songs to me.

    I am the cardboard suitcase that reminded me this was not your home. I am now the trees that grow and bend and wind their way through the soil, of that tiny wood house that is now mine. I have the skin and face of those I do not know, I am the dark haired towering over the group of redheads and petite blondes who raised me, if you turned me inside out, you would find them.
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