Where are you from?

A bungalow on Crestwood Drive, hot tub bubbling behind the garage.
A condo in Seelbach, white stucco covering the walls.
A townhouse in Pheasant Run Estates, 45s spinning in the basement.
An attic in Oberschopfheim, watching the neighbours stomp on grapes.
An apartment above a Gasthaus, smelling goulash simmer every morning at ten.
A clapboard on Florence Street, three Volkswagens rusting by the curb side.
An en-suite bedroom at an English school, crabs from Lake Atitlan crawling up the toilet.
A studio in a winter city, angels smiling down from the cornices.
A custom-built on a desert plateau, stars shooting past every ten seconds.
A one-bedroom on St.Denis, two kittens sleeping in the sink.
A duplex off Bank, china cabinet sparkling with a hockey star’s crystal.
A dirt-floored shack in the Lowlands, blue butterflies drinking from the river.
A converted tool shed perched on a limestone shelf, learning to play the tin flute.
A thatch cottage overlooking the sea, rats scratching in the attic after sundown.
A heritage-house bed-sit on a hilltop, lights twinkling on Grouse Mountain.
Another on West Third, a magnolia blooming flowers big as saucers.
A hotel room above a lotus pond, listening to fireworks explode.
A cedar-plank cabin in a temperate rainforest, collecting rainwater in blue barrels.
An apartment beside a medieval castle, brick walls standing since 1492.

Where are you from?

Questions and Answers

What inspired “Where are you from?”?

This poem was inspired by the incessant question anyone who travels is asked: Where are you from? I have lead a bit of an unconventional lifestyle, so this question isn’t so simple to answer. I think that I’m a composite of all the places I’ve lived, and the people I’ve lived there with.

What poetic techniques did you use in “Where are you from?”?

I began writing a list just because I was curious to see how many places I had lived in for more than six months. The list transformed into a poem. I played around a bit with repetition. I’m still not sure how well it works… I wanted it to be very simple.

This poem “Where are you from?” originally appeared in Asian Canadian Studies Spec issue of Canadian Literature 199 (Winter 2008): 216-216.

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