ISLAND WOMAN by Juanita Rey

My mother’s photograph
sits on the mantle
between a flag of my country
and a ceramic dolphin.

She does not smile.
The word is Spanish
is la sonrisa
and my friend says it reminds him
of the English word ‘sunrise.’
But she is more dusk,
with lips clenched,
eyes peering down.
Even her clothes are dark,
like their sun’s already set.

She hates to have her picture taken.
But I pleaded for this one,
which is why I have this pose
given so unwillingly
like a wealthy man
tossing a coin into a beggar’s cup.

But, though leaving the island,
I must have something of it.
It’s a small flag
and the dolphin was
manufactured in Taiwan.

But, even grim,
she is not small.
Even dour, she was born,
not made.


Juanita Rey is a Dominican poet who has been in this country 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 have begun to take it seriously. She enjoys reading. Gabriel Garcia Maquez and Toni Morrison are particular favorites.