Julie Corrales


julie corrales is a first-generation Chicana, an autodidactic chola, political activist, teen-mother, hoochie, feminist, survivor, actively engaged in her own decolonization. Mexica by blood, American by her parents’ sweat and tears, she draws on her experiences to advocate for and write about Latinx issues. As a youth, julie wrote melodramatic rhyming love poems, many which are still in circulation among California inmates. Since then, her essays have been published in the San Diego Union Tribune and La Prensa San Diego; her poetry has been featured on La Bloga, a Chicanx literary blog, and included in Palabra, An Open Mic anthology. She performs spoken word at various venues in San Diego. 

to the girl sitting on the ground outside the office bathroom
her mother was cleaning on the night i was working late…


i see you, morita. i remember.


i too was subjected to boring nights

outside a bathroom   

outside an office

in a hollow building     my bone-set

loneliness    echoing off of tile floors and white walls

while my mother  knelt over a toilet  

             just on the other side of the door


i was also met in the hallway    by lone

late workers   a man in a plain button-up  

sleeves    rolled up as if he would  ever

have his arms up to his elbows in anything

the tall thin white woman with features

i saw in every 80s music video  

but never in my neighborhood ---  her beauty

a jarring reminder   i do not belong


the men would almost always  stop

in the their tracks   their jaws would fall

slightly   they wouldn’t say anything

but if they had i’m certain they would have stuttered

their eyes would go from wide and round ---

                           who is this foreign girl jutting out

                  in my comfortable world?

 to furrowed and fiery ---

                  why am i affronted with things i don’t want to see?  

then they’d notice my mother’s cart and      all my skin

    would wince   with their judgement ---

                  who would ever bring their child here?


the women wouldn’t miss a beat

their eyes would dart up   and down   my pubescent

body  -- size me up in the 2.5 seconds

it takes them to size up    any woman   of any age

and quickly surmise that     i was no threat

    brown   and round  and dismal --   far, far removed

from anything that is them     a half-glance telling

                                    me all the things   i already knew

their pace never slowing  i’d just  disappear

right in front of them     my mother never even materialized

i remember shrinking further into myself

i remember wondering what normal

             kids were doing,  certain i was not normal

i remember humiliation pulling me   down   down

      into hard brown carpeting ---

carpeting my mother would soon vacuum

             while walking   backwards  out of the room

so as to leave  no  footprints

     she:  a ghost that empties trash cans

             me:  a ghost of a ghost


mija, i know you are angry at her for bringing you here

i know you wish to shed her like old skin     leave her

         and her cleaning cart    and the hard carpet

in another life and walk into a new one  --- a life

where you roll up your sleeves   for no reason   --- a life

where you do more   than haunt hallways   in places   you don’t belong


you will ---

         you will and your whole life when you see cleaning staff

in the hall you’ll offer them the   warmest smile you can muster

         your eyes will glimmer      si se puede

         and they’ll look right at you

         and their eyes will beam back     gracias

you'll take your lunch out back where they gather    

you’ll find every opportunity to tell them      

                                       mi mamá también limpiaba oficinas   

and bask in their pride        they will see their daughters in you

         as i see my mother in them      as i see me in you


that night     as my childhood poured

   into the office foyer     i pull myself to the present

i turned my whole body to face you     reaching---

    clumsily---    for something to give you   i managed to say

             i remember coming to work with my mom at night, just like this…

all the shame dropped from your brow     we smiled at each other


I see you, mija. You are no ghost.


The Acentos Review 2019