To The Things That Raised Me 

by Seyla Velez



To the parcha drinks and tamarindo candies 

To those creamy corner-store coconut popsicles

Dripping down the sides of my toddler-swollen smile


To the mumbled bass booms of reggaeton 

Strutting, heavy-footed, down our streets 

To the Puerto Rican window hanging flags 

And surround sound belly laughs 


To the thick thighs that helped me dribble my first soccer ball

And long, brown hair flaunting its wealth 

To those rosaries on the shelf 

Confessions and repentance even to oneself 


To the 4th of July parties that never failed us 

And to the shots of Aguardiente that failed them

To the heapings of sopa that opened every last pore

and to the seemingly thousands of cousins 


To the respect shown with cheek kisses and a hug

And a hello to everyone… 

I mean   e v e r y o n e   in the room 


To all the constant shouting but the good kind

To all the times I had to grab my jacket before leaving

And tragic consequences to wet hair 

To the ones prevented by Vicks VapoRub


To every shade of skin I see, 

even the ones with scars and tattooed lip tint 

To the colombian jeans that somehow hold every curve

and to the dark knees and armpits we adore


Pa’ los viejos who keep the stories coming

Y los vallenatos that when the accordion begins,

It just hits different 


To the things that raised me.



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