I am from the sunlit coasts of Puerto Rico, carried on a balmy trade wind,
From flamboyan trees and coquí choruses whispered to me in lullabies.
I am from the Chicago suburbs, 1980s sprawl, the chatter of cicadas in the summer nights.
I am from the sizzling of pernil on Nochebuena, pastelles gift wrapped in banana leaves,
From the spice of sport peppers on a Saturday afternoon hotdog,
A fusion on my tongue, a cultural mosaic in each bite.
I am from the horns of salsa and drums of bomba, from Héctor Lavoe on a transistor radio, From Illmatic, 3 Feet High, and Low End Theory on cassette,
Two worlds converging in rhythm, a syncopation of the soul.
I am from Spanish in my grandmother’s soft prayers, whispered into my curls,
From English in my schoolyard shouts, echoed in suburban reverb,
A bicultural language woven into the fabric of my existence.
I am from the narrow cobblestones of Viejo San Juan, shuffling dominos and Malta India,
From Pioneer Park carnivals and our squat brick starter home on Yale Avenue.
A childhood in sepia tones and vibrant technicolor, all in one.
I am from Los Pitufos, Carlos Colon’s forehead, and telenovelas on plastic-covered couches,
From skateboarding and BMX, the two-time three-peat Bulls, and a garage that smelled of sawdust, fresh cut grass, and marijuana,
I am from a world of contrasts, but belonging entirely to each.
I am from Tony and Elaine, the Heron and the Flower,
From my sister Sarah — a dozen years younger, and a Rhodesian ridgeback named Dr. Livingston.
I am from midnight mass and sunrise service.
I am from the hopes of immigrants, the colonized dreams of an island,
From the promise of America — its suburbs a microcosm of possibilities and assimilation.
I am from Puerto Rico, from Chicago, from the 80s, from now.
I am from the blending of worlds, a child of the diaspora,
From a life lived in the balance, carrying my history into tomorrow.
I am from two worlds, and to both — I proudly belong.