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I Am From

Houses on stilts

I am from dirt floor where the alcaldía now stands.

I am from hands twisted from sewing by the piece.

I am from where people say ‘Buen Día’ whether they know you or not,

where the salt water of ocean meets the salt water tears, and salty sweat of my ancestors.

Where the grief of loss fuels the warmth of generosity,

where the air carries the smell of sofrito — the essence of all things good.

I am from where my tongue trips over the Spanish I’ve tried to reclaim.

I am from the place where culantro grows wild

along with many things I can’t yet identify,

because that knowledge was lost.

Author: Denise Padín Collazo

Denise Padín Collazo is a social justice leader, a mentor to women of color, and a family work integrator. She is the author of Thriving in the Fight: A Survival Manual for Latinas on the Front Lines of Change (Berrett-Koehler, 2021.) Her work has been featured in the Miami Herald, Telemundo, Chronicle of Philanthropy and Nonprofit Quarterly. Twitter @DeniseThriving