I Am

I Am – by A. P. Alessandri

I am from the Andes and the Amazon rainforest,
and from the warm sands of SoFla.
A mountain girl in the magic city,
bred with frijoles, sancocho and Burger King.
A speaker of romance whose tongue
becomes a contortionist–
Erre con erre cigarro, erre con erre barril.
Roll your tongue, mija, ole, niña.
A gringa among my people.
A Latina among my people.
Often confused for a stranger.
A hyphen in a world that devalues hyphens.
A hyphen in a world that overvalues hyphens.
A Paisa and Miamian born in Queens,
who celebrates Noche Buena with
buñuelos and natilla and El Niño Dios
then spends Christmas morning
unwrapping Santa Claus under the
six-foot fraiser fir from somewhere up north.

My father used to say in Latin,
de gustibus et coloribus non disputatum,
but we still argued about our differences
and the colors of our people.

I am my mother’s daughter,
a pseudo- perfectionist
who dreams of the Blue Ridge Mountains,
while moving to Cumbia and Vallenato.
I am my father’s daughter,
a seeker of justice
torn between the Ave Maria‘s and
the duplicity of the Church.

I am me.
Broken, idealistic, indecisive, strong, whole.
I am my mother’s mother and my father’s father.
Or my mother’s father and my father’s mother.
I am them, and yet I am not them.
I define binary opposites.

I am.

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