I’m from a family that could make a nun become an alcoholic,
make a circus look like a library
and cause a soda pop to fizz till it’s nothing.

I’m from pumpkin pie with low fat cool whip,
borrowing clothes and burning the crescent rolls,
brewing Mother’s Day coffee without a filter
and mowing the lawn for a few extra bucks.
I’m from singing karaoke on the pool table with
my hair colored red and blue and orange,
from a dance that’s been rehearsed for hours
and a pool party every birthday,
roasting marshmallows till they’re black.

I’m from a game of genetic Guess Who,
two mothers three children two dogs and my brother,
one with a ball sac and for the rest, it’s unclear,
from belching and cursing and sex jokes at the dinner table,
screaming at the top of your lungs over leftovers
and getting grounded for all of the above.

My house is a Chinese fire drill from Poland,
a haven for
“say what you need to say but it better be something intelligent,”
for slamming the door with dramatic effect
and casting the same lines with or without a curtain.
I’m from sleeping with my sisters on Christmas Eve,
from speaking to others with respect
and treating the body as a pathway for love.
I was raised in a sports bar and
kept my innocence till it counted.

I’m from underage drinking as long as it’s in the house,
from zit-popping teenagers who wear too much mascara,
grilled chicken spiked with mom’s wine sauce,
and a way of knowing they all mean well.
My brother bakes the best brownies,
drops the best jokes, expels the worst farts
and wouldn’t hurt you if the football coach asked him to.
I’m not afraid to tell mom anything.

I’ve learned to make pierogies and white Russians,
to work for change instead of money,
to speak without filter,
to not get the flu shot,
to be honest and hopeful,
to believe in humanity even if it only
seems to exist between these walls that
I have loved and wept for many times in my life.
- Kristie Kanaley