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 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.