A. Van Jordan is the author of The Cineaste: Poems (W.W. Norton & Company, 2013).
from (→) prep. 1. Starting at (a particular place or time): As in, John was from Chicago, but he played guitar straight from the Delta; he wore a blue suit from Robert Hall's; his hair smelled like coconut; his breath, like mint and bourbon; his hands felt like they were from slave times when he touched me—hungry, stealthy, trembling. 2. Out of: He pulled a knot of bills from his pocket, paid the man and we went upstairs. 3. Not near to or in contact with: He smoked the weed, but, surprisingly, he kept it from me. He ~aid it would make me too self-conscious, and he wanted those feelings as far away from us as possible; he said a good part of my beauty was that I wasn't conscious of my beauty. Isn't that funny? So we drank Bloody Mothers (Hennessey and tomato juice), which was hard to keep from him—he always did like to drink. 4· Out of the control or authority of: I was released from my mama's house, from dreams of hands holding me down, from the threat of hands not pulling me up, from the man that knew me, but of whom I did not know; released from the dimming of twilight, from the brightness of morning; from the love I thought had to look like love; from the love I thought had to taste like love, from the love I thought I had to love like love. 5. Out of the totality of: I came from a family full of women; I came from a family full of believers; I came from a pack of witches—I'm just waiting to conjure my powers; I came from a legacy of lovers—I'm just waiting to seduce my seducer; I came from a pride of proud women, and we take good care of our young. 6. As being other or another than: He couldn't tell me from his mother; he couldn't tell me from his sister; he couldn't tell me from the last woman he had before me, and why should he—we're all the same woman. 7. With (some person, place, or thing) as the instrument, maker, or source: Here's a note from my mother, and you can take it as advice from me: A weak lover is more dangerous than a strong enemy; if you're going to love someone, make sure you know where they're coming from. 8. Because of: Becoming an alcoholic, learning to walk away, being a good speller, being good in bed, falling in love—they all come from practice. 9. Outside or beyond the possibility of: In the room, he kept me from leaving by keeping me curious; he kept me from drowning by holding my breath in his mouth; yes, he kept me from leaving till the next day when he said Leave. Then, he couldn't keep me from coming back.
From M-A-C-N-O-L-I-A, published by W. W. Norton & Company. Copyright © 2004 by A. Van Jordan. Used with permission.