Deri Ross Pryor 

Where I Am 

          (after “Where I’m From” by George Ella Lyon)

     “Not all who wander are lost” ~ J.R.R. Tolkien

I am Manhattan in summer:

hot pavement, hot music, hot dogs 

from silver vendor carts 

dotting our sound blistered streets 

and that perfect fold of pizza

calling me home.

The cool sting of Italian ices,

cherry-stained chin, holding my daddy’s hand 

as we dance our way to 

the Village or Central Park.

I am Puerto Rico:

rice and beans, carnitas and plantanos.

My abuela sweeping the cool front porch tiles,

pulling up my pudgy little girl feet,

so she can pass the broom under. Watching the sway 

of her Caribbean colored skirt as she gossips at the front gate,

while I chew on the sugar cane 

             (sweeter than any store-bought candy)

my Pepito has just cut from out back.

I am Florida:

Haitian chicken, Cuban black beans and sangria. 

Gyros and baklava.

Burnt sand between my toes,

tanned teenage shoulders 

under a cotton candy sky

as we cruise the AIA

in my best friend’s orange Opal

looking for cute boys and outlaw adventure.

Laughing at Christmas lights on palm trees and 

tiny dogs in diamond collars.

I am Kentucky:

the girl with the curls and the funny accent.

I am the discovery of:

          bourbon and derby pie,

          biscuits and gravy, 

          and hot browns.

I am the soft cushion hills of bluegrass in spring,

my first snow angel and the ice scraper in 

the driver’s side door pocket.

I am the Gorge, and moonbows.

See, I am not a demographic,

I’m not an olive-skinned puppet misfit

to put on your labeled shelf to stare and wonder,

dissecting my birthright 

to put me in the “proper” place.

I dance without strings to

the voices, the beat 

of an entire world slowly turning.

Because I am you, 

and him, 

and her,

and where I am,

I am home.



Deri Ross Pryor is a writer of poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction. She has been creating stories since she first learned the power of words, long before she knew how to read or write. Born in New York and raised in Florida, she now calls Kentucky home. She is a recent graduate of Eastern Kentucky University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English/Creative Writing. She won several college-level writing contests and has been published in Eastern’s Aurora Journal, pluck! The Journal of Affrilachian Arts and Culture, and Kudzu Literary Magazine.  To pay the bills, she works as a copywriter and journal editor for a non-profit trade association. Deri lives in Richmond with her two beagles and inadvertent cat. 


return to The Twenty          |          home