Karol House | I’m from where

I’m from Bineshi’s bloodline.
That’s Bill Baker if you don’t speak Ojibwemowin.*
Ni migizi dodem.**

I’m from sitting on green boxes on
6-mile corner, watching cars go by.
Sometimes their four doors didn’t match.

I’m from Packer games on Sundays, Greyhound trips for the
holidays, and Easter baskets with Karla.

I’m from women with the same last name and a father
none of us knew.

I’m from the woods; northern.
Where pines and birch bark blanket
both bends of tribal roads,
paved and gravel.

I’m from a single-parent household.
Michael Jackson cassette tapes, Purple Rain posters, and latchkey kids.
I’m from Title V programs. Commods on pantry shelves,
cucumbers grown in
grandpa Jake’s garden, and a
mean ol’ dog named Turkey.

I’m from “crying won’t change anything” and you
“should’ve known better.”

I’m from where silence is normal and
Hugs are warm and forced Catholicism still
weighs heavy on my mother’s shoulders.
At 73—the burden has lightened.

This is where I’ll always return.

* Ojibwe language.

** I am eagle clan.

Karol House grew up on a small reservation in northern Wisconsin. He is currently incarcerated at the Minnesota Correctional Facility, and won First Place for this poem in the 2017 PEN Prison Writing Contest. He has been writing since adolescence and says he is striving to make sense of the arrangement of words given from the cosmos.

Photo credit: David Marcu for Unsplash.com



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