Juanita Rey

Big Girl

Not a woman,
a big girl.
Allowed to wear some makeup
but just enough
so my mother could say,
“You’re a big girl now.”

Big girl –
what did that mean?
In the mirror,
I just looked awkward.

In-between stage,
my aunt called it.
It made me think
of someone
being jerked
in two different
opposite directions.
It didn’t seem to matter
to anyone
if I split apart.

Not a child, either.
Big girl
didn’t allow for
the old cloth doll,
my fairy stories
with their dashing knights
and all-white princesses.

I was supposed to be something
that could only be defined
by what it was not.
But I tried on the makeup anyhow.
I needed a place to hide.



I exaggerate of course.
My body is not the enemy here.
But it swells to a monstrous size.
And is no longer designed for doing laundry.

I stuff the washer as best I can,
click the door shut,
add powder and coins,
then press the button.

I languish in this hot cramped steam room,
watch clothes press against the glass
as if struggling to get free.
Then the one inside me moves
as if it’s trying to do the same.

Paciencia, I tell them.
Paciencia, I tell myself.
The machine rattles, the baby kicks,
I wipe my brow repeatedly.
And it’s all in aid of coming clean.


Juanita Rey is a Dominican poet who has lived in the U.S. for five years. She has worked many jobs while studying to improve her English. She has been writing for a number of years but only recently has begun to take it seriously. Her work has been accepted by Pennsylvania English, Harbinger Asylum, Petrichor Machine and Madcap Poets.