My Nuyorican Puerta
Storefront with a beat up bar I entered mid day/ mid week with my tattered paper. Tattered paper filled with words written unevenly fragmented and misspelled words: capturing a carved out moment of someone else’s life. Or maybe it was mine on a train from the Bronx. I heard there was a place where Puerto Ricans gathered to read poetry. Tattered paper full of words I walked in asked if I could read. Invited to the Open Mic – I brought my words.
My Nuyorican Puerta opened. Elegua gave me permission to walk through. Finding a smoked filled room with poetic voices gathering like a communal tribal meeting speaking a language I knew felt home with-Spanglish our language, a breath of fresh air. Where I wasn’t shamed to speak my truth where finger snapping, “ vaya” and “así es” were the common metaphors/simile’s of our culture.
No more being told to “shut up!” “Girls don’t talk like that.” or “why do you have to say carajo?” Learning to speak my truth and finding comfort that I had a history that was my own-not others. Learning how important it is to have pride in what I say and do. Learning to honor my history as a Puerto Rican woman who would do battle in a mostly male dominated world of arroz y habechuelas poetic journeys. Learning to make space para las mujeres who would come along and claim their right to be there.
For is it Mother that gives birth to change. The alpha and the omega, the yin and the yang of Nuyorican words would be born to bring the world a new poetic justice that would define a generation.
My Nuyorican Puerta opened on that Friday night. Elegua gave me permission to walk through – and I did.
© Maria Aponte. Published by permission in Centro Voices on 10 April 2015.