Where I Am From

A Poem of Heritage

Aabye-Gayle F.
2 min readApr 28, 2020


Family photos from the ‘80s.

I am from laundry dried on the clothesline, Tropicana orange juice, and Johnson & Johnson’s baby oil.

I am from Vicks in the winter and school supplies bought at Woolworth before September.

I am from a three-story, green, attached house with a shed in the backyard that I wanted to make my room.

(Home was warm, comfortable, and smelled like love.)

I am from Dad’s starched shirts and Mom’s lemongrass tea.

I am from hopscotch, red rover, and “red light, green light, 1–2–3!”

I am from cucumbers, grown in our backyard alongside giant tomatoes, then sliced and salted in the kitchen.

I am from summers with Grandma and Grandad in Grenada and manners mattering.

I am from Johanna and Adina — the matriarchs of blood and faith.

I’m from the abundant affection of the women and the protective love of the men.

From “Jehovah Jireh,” Family Radio, and “God willing.”

I’m from faith in the face of want and tempests, facing the insane and unnerving with a peace that defies understanding.

I’m from Brooklyn and Grenada — from New York City and America — depending on who’s asking.

I’m from rice and pigeon peas, thick soup with dumplings, and meat that’s savory and sweet.

From my teenage mother who left a small island for a much bigger one in America and my father who made the same trip not long after — childhood friends reuniting on a visit home to see their respective families — laughing over a lost suitcase containing a jar of Cheez Whiz he was supposed to bring, then falling in love and remaining inseparable until death stepped in.

Boxes and albums are full of photos that look old-fashioned, taken before digital seemed possible, but which we text to each other now.

I am from faces I remember from years ago — smiling faces that loved me well and look a lot like my own.

Inspired by “Where I’m From” by George Ella Lyon.