You Are From

This poem was the product of a 10-day intense summer seminar with The Olga Lengyel Institute for Holocaust Studies and Human Rights (TOLI). More posts on that experience are forthcoming.

To my children: Eddie, Charlie, and Alice,

You are from the Dutch. 
From west of Groningen, northwest of Drenthe and Overijssel.
(names that are familiar, 
but places that are foreign.)
You are from coastal towns, dune grasses
and peat meadows
with windmills that turn with time.

You are from immigrants and farmworkers
Gerrit and Akke
jailed for holding unauthorized church services
now living on the stolen land of the Odawa.
You’re from the Dutch Reformed Church and John Calvin
from van Raalte and Van De Luyster
from freedom to oppress and
freedom to work a new land.

You are from New Groningen and Zeeland Chix,
pigs in the blanket made by the Ladies’ Aid Society
From farming and steel work
And a veteran of the second World War,
that solidified a distrust of the Other.

You are also from change.
from questioning tradition
to making a new culture.
from learning and connecting–
creating growth and understanding
with people once distrusted.

Your roots are not in revolution,
but the branch from which you bloom
feeds you with resistance
and disruption.
Questions sprout around you
Synthesizing in you
a new way to
persevere.

In our family is dedication
and determination,
people with dreams and goals
but few words
to admit the struggles and 
conflicts of the journey.

You are from transformation.

About Katie

Just a small town girl...wait no. That is a Journey song. Katie Sluiter is a small town girl, but she is far from living in a lonely world. She is a middle school English teacher, writer, mother, and wife. Life has thrown her a fair share of challenges, but her belief is that writing through them makes her stronger.

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