I Am From

by Reina D., 15

I am from the smell of savory rice and beans.
Every weekend with all of my cousins,
at Grandma and Grandpa’s house.
I am from a big, crazy family,
Meeting new family members I’ve never heard of.

I am from the salty smell of the pink sand beaches.
Breezy summer nights in Puerto Rico.
Tropical, color-filled Puerto Rico. 
I am from the dancing, the music, the food, the culture. 

I am from everything bagels toasted with cream cheese on late summer mornings. 
Vanilla ice cream dripping off the cone, onto my sticky hands. 
Long, summer days spent at Pier Village.
I am from the late summer nights, walking on the boardwalk.

I am from the hours I spent in my Dora-themed bedroom playing with dolls.
The pretty, pink princess bed sheets.
Trips to the lollipop store after school.
I am from the big box TV I watched The Disney Channel on.

New Jersey, USA

Notes from our interns on selecting this piece: In this piece, the writer creates a juxtaposition of cultures and conveys an experience of diaspora. The beautiful “salty smell of pink sand beaches,” the large family dinners, and the colorful dances, foods, and sights of Puerto Rico contrast with the American experiences of boardwalks, television, and “sticky hands” from dripping ice cream cones. These images are vibrant and tangible, creating two lives for us to understand and connect with. With such a unique and descriptive perspective, this poem captured my attention immediately and is a great piece for Voice & Verse.