I Am From

Austin Brimley son of DC widow writer Marjorie Brimley wades through ocean

A few weeks ago, Austin came downstairs and wanted my help editing a poem he wrote. “It’s for school,” he said. Their class had read the poem “Where I’m From” by George Ella Lyon and he was supposed to write his story – the story of his life – in a similar style.

The kids were all working on a shared document, so we could see what his classmates had written. As you may imagine, there was a lot of discussion of favorite sports and playing with siblings and other fourth grade interests. On the first line, Austin had written a bit about being from “mom and dad,” but he wasn’t really sure if it was clear whether he was talking about his dad Shawn or about Chris. We talked about it for a while, and I told him that in this poem, it seemed like everything didn’t have to be perfectly laid out. “It’s like life,” I said, “usually we don’t know everything about everyone. We slowly get to know other people. This poem isn’t your whole story, of course, and your teacher knows that. It’s just a glimpse of who you are.”

Austin was quiet, as he often is when he is thinking. He added a few details, and then we workshopped the piece for a long time. Ultimately he changed very little, though he did alter the first line and add some more details. “I like this,” he said, when he was finished. I did too.

This is what he wrote:

I am from mom and 2 dads, 

From playing with Claire and Tommy. 

From DC and the dark space in my closet. 

My dad drifting off the family tree to the great beyond. 

I am from candy and pizza. 

I am from baseball and basketball, 

I am from love and kindness. 

I am from the middle of the children. 

I am 9, 

I am from Marjorie and Shawn and Chris. 

I am from art and school, 

I am from the big cherry tree I like to climb. 

I am from memories, 

from friends and family. 

From being Austin.

23 Replies to “I Am From”

  1. Man, this is beautiful! Great job Austin!!

    1. Thank you!

    2. Such a beautiful poem!

  2. Exquisite, bravo!

    1. Thank you!

  3. This is wonderfully written—so sensitive, fun, thoughtful

    1. Thanks!

  4. This is beautiful.

    1. Thanks!

  5. Julie S Giordano says: Reply

    Looks like you might have a gifted one there!! Amazing!

    1. Thanks!

  6. K. Fitzgerald says: Reply

    My kids wrote their versions of this poem this summer. It was so fun to see what they wrote. My mother was an educator and widow. I read your blog from the children’s perspectives as I can relate to them and from your perspective when I think of my mother. I really enjoyed today’s post. Austin’s poem is outstanding. It’s filled with so much love. He knocked it out of the park!

    1. I love that your kids wrote them too!

  7. Dolores Bradley says: Reply

    Marjorie, you have competition. I’m crying ugly right now. What an amazing old soul in a young body….I love this so much. I love that he knows who he is. Brava, to you,

    1. Austin has always been a bit of an old soul. I love that you loved it.

  8. Oh my heart 💕 This is beautiful. And profound. Wise words from a very wise boy.

    1. Thank you! And yes – he’s a kid who is sometimes quiet, but yes also sometimes profound.

  9. Michael Zoosman says: Reply

    This is outstanding! I’ve no doubt that Shawn is clapping from the great beyond!

    Thank you so much for sharing this. Austin at 9 is already a better writer than yours truly…

    Please congratulate him for me.

    1. Awww…thanks!

  10. Great job Austin! I love your poem! I hope you keep writing poems and keep sharing them.

    Much love,

    1. Thank you!

  11. This touched my heart. So much said from a soulful nine-year-old. I hope this ends up framed or in a place of importance – it says and shows so much. Way to go Austin, and way to go mom and BOTH dads 🙂

    1. Thanks – we loved it too.

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