De Donde Vengo Yo (Where I’m From)

This want of knowing is greater
than the need of oxygen in my lungs
to be alive and not know who you are or where you’re from
is not the same as living.

De donde vengo yo is not a question.
It is a statement.
An affirmation of where I’m from.
Because where I’m from, history wears the face of family.

It’s my grandmother’s hands that have molded
boys into men and girls into women
It’s my mother’s strength that she wears everyday like her
favorite pair of shoes.

Where I’m from the cool breeze knows nothing of cruel winters
It’s where the rain makes love to the earth every night
and her harvest can nourish an entire village
It’s where the sun lays its lips on her sugar cane skin,
promising to always keep her warm.
It’s where the moonlight dances
to the timeless rhythms of the drums

De donde vengo yo pride is heard in the song of the coqui
It’s where love is felt in the sound of her bendicion.
It’s where a tasa de café is a sacred experience to be shared
with the one you love over the early morning sunrise.

De donde vengo yo the 1950’s migration was the promise of new life
But weary limbs and losing lotto numbers were reminders
that in this country you need more than $1 and a dream.
Where I’m from I was taught to invest me
Nurture dreams like new born babies.
Because de donde vengo yo
is where Supreme Court justices are born

Where I’m from you do not need a dictionary
to communicate with your people
because there Se Habla Espanol all the time
De donde vengo yo is seen every second Sunday in June
taking over Fifth Avenue.
De donde vengo yo las navidades son parrandas,
los 3 reyes magos, y un lechon
It is where si no hay para todo no hay para nadie
Because we are a giving people.

De donde vengo yo is not a question.
It is a statement.
An affirmation of where I’m from.
A testament to those who came before me.
Underneath my bed is a shoe box
spilling old pictures,
a sift of lost faces
to remind me that
I am from those moments–
snapped before I existed–
de alli es de donde vengo yo.

© 2012 Nancy Arroyo Ruffin

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