my name is jo

my father used to say     though it wasn’t original
a change is as good as a rest
which was supposed to explain why we never went on holidays
forever changing resting i guess though it didn’t seem so at the time
especially to my mother who got cold chills seeing a moving van
whether it was coming for her or not
my father also mused though it wasn’t original
home is where you hang your hat
it seemed to suit his peripatetic postings wife and kids in tow
winnipegtrentonbagotvilleottawacoldlakeedmonton
to say nothing of north bay cobalt haileybury
before re-joining the royal canadian air force
people would quote the nut doesn’t fall far from the tree
as they learned of my follow-up moves
edmonton winnipeg montreal
calgary singapore calgary again
while my parents shifted as they say in singapore
from edmonton to brandon to minnesota
once after they’d gone to brandon i drove there for christmas
friends asked if i was going home
yes i said
what’s it like they asked
i don’t know i said
i’ve never been there
and when people asked
where are you from
i couldn’t answer didn’t understand the question
had to clarify
do you mean where was i born
or where do my parents live
or where do i live now
so after all these years though it isn’t original
i like to say
i am canadian

~ Joanne Underwood

Joanne Underwood is a recent empty-nester who maintains a home base in Calgary. There she writes poems about family to share with her sons, thus keeping family stories alive and in an interesting format. She is indebted to her wordweaver friends for their advice, commiseration, shared laughter and inspiration.

“I write my poems in order to leave some part of me and my story behind for my children. I wrap myself in the memories and enjoy getting them down on paper. Family and friends play an important part in these poems. Where would I be without them?”

Read more of ‘s poetry:
Homeland Security

Editor’s note: This poem is from Home and Away – a sequel to the bestselling Writing the Land (2007). Look for one poet to be featured each day as Alberta poets ponder the question “what is home?” and explore our complex relationship with working on, living with, exploiting and protecting our land and our home. For more information about the project, click here.

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