Where I am from is 7, 107 islands and one time zone and almost two hundred languages. Where I am from, there is no word for snow, but numerous words for rice, basket, and carry. Where I am from the people almost never say directly what they mean; instead they ask questions and tell jokes and smile at everything.
Where I am from is a Spanish town, home of the saint who gave me my name. Where I am from is an American ship carrying men of the cloth carrying books carrying the words that will warp me as I speak them for the better part of my life.
Where I am from: ancestral house on Corregidor Street long since torn down to make space for a Buddhist temple, townhouse in Xavierville, maternal grandparents’ house in LGV, paternal grandparents’ house in Valle Verde 3, a house in Baguio cut into the side of the mountain almost as old as the mountain and home to just as many ghosts, Barangay Old Balara where jeepneys and stray dogs share the road equitably between them, Commonwealth Avenue incidentally the highway with the greatest number of fatal accidents in the Philippines, fairytale castle Ever Gotesco, a tall house on a hill from which you can see the stars outside of a dirty Metro Manila sky.
Where I am from, prayer is endurance training, on your knees with your eyes shut and your hands folded and your mouth moving soundlessly for hours. Where I am from, God is something they don’t teach you at school. Where I am from, you will never find him alone.
Where I am from there is nothing you cannot build with enough scrap metal. You can live in it. You can make it move.
Where I am from, there are no signs; the alley-cats carry the names of the streets on their paws. Where I am from, you will always find the sea if you drive in a straight line.
Where I am from, we are solicitous of visitors, we are especially friendly to tourists, we will speak your language, we will send our girls to take care of you, we will give you the bed, the car, the best barbecue in the city, a case of beer.
Where I am from, the storms are women, but the sun is almost assuredly a man. Where I am from, we leave food offerings out for the dwarves, we walk arm-in-arm in pairs through the forests, we know rain on a sunny day for a wedding somewhere in the spirit world. Banana trees were once hands. Pineapples see everything. When a beautiful girl dies a volcano rises up over her grave.
Where I am from, nearly all insects have wings to carry them toward light.
Where I am from, you can buy anything from an old lady by the roadside—flowers, vegetables, dried fish, long skirts in a patchwork rainbow, marbles, decks of cards, medicine, love-charms, aphrodisiacs, abortifacients, good luck, your future, your way home.
Day 25: Write a poem that makes use of anaphora.
The phrase “where I am from” is one of my favorites for this sort of thing. Recycled from this writing exercise, which I originally did for a grad school poetry class.