puckered tight,

disapproving lips,

where threads have

pulled and gathered

red and white gingham

checks across a chest

that doesn’t know how

to expand, just yet.

tennis shoes tied

in double knots,

sun licking pavement

until it is gooey,

spongy with heat.

i pull at cotton filled

elastic, a sticky hug

clinging without consent

ruffled straps slipped off shoulders

until i am free,

like my brother,

my cousin—

who bare their chests

in blazing June heat.

shock and awe

at my newfound

bravery, which

isn’t bravery at all,

but a misunderstanding

of the rules, of what

girls don’t do.

the edge of my bobbed

hair cutting a knife-line

into my cheeks,

while my head hangs

and mother covers me,

but not before a picture

that everyone will laugh

at for years to come:

wasn’t she cute when

she didn’t understand?

when she thought she

could do anything,

just like the boys?


Juliette Van der Molen is a writer and poet living in the Greater NYC
area. Her work has also appeared in Rose Quartz Journal, Burning House
Press, Memoir Mixtapes, Zathom and several other publications.

You can find more of her writing at Medium and connect with her on Twitter

Her debut chapbook, Death Library: The Exquisite Corpse
Collection, was published in August 2018 by Moonchild Magazine.