I am from hex signs,
from pretzels and Lebanon balogna.
I am from carpenter ants (black, hearty, like moving bits of blackberries along the front porch).
I am from the torrential summer rains, the still waters of Bernhart's Dam.
I am from diet Coke and prozac,
from Elsie and Leah.
I am from the laugh when you fall and the pick-you-up when you've fallen.
From be nice and damn, I'm good.
I am from He is Risen! Families are Forever, and I'm trying to be like Jesus.
I'm from Wernersville and Kutztown
Tastykakes and pork-n-sauerkraut, eaten every New Year's Day so that the year is filled with luck.
From the great-grandfather who lifted 100-lb barrels of pickles,
the grandmother who lifted elderly patients from beds to wash and bathe them.
I am from notebooks of names carefully gathered and documented--
the settlers of New York, the farmers of the Midwest and the Germans of Pennsylvania,
the land grant owners of New Mexico--
names plucked and preserved from the fruit of my family tree.