Watching Las Reinas: Escuela Secundaria, Cuauhtémoc, Chihuahua, 1990s

I never got to be in the contest

for the beauty queens even though I was

nominated every year since I started

school with the Mexicans. I bet

I would have won too—everyone here

is in love with rubias. I just got to bake

cupcakes for the fundraiser. I didn't

march in the Independence Day parade

or dance folklórico either. My parents

wrote letters saying it was against

our religion, but I still had to help

decorate during art class. I loved

cutting out hearts and flowers for

the floats and getting to use spray

glitter. No matter how hard I tried

I always ended up covered in sparkles.

About the Author

Abigail Carl-Klassen

Abigail Carl-Klassen is a writer, researcher, poet, educator, translator, and activist living in El Paso, Texas. She grew up in the oil fields of the Permian Basin alongside Old Colony Mennonite immigrants from Mexico and has worked in education, language services, community development, social science research, and agriculture in a a variety of contexts across the USA and Latin America. She earned an MFA in Bilingual Creative Writing at the University of Texas El Paso, and her work has been published widely in English and Spanish, appearing in ZYZZYVA, Catapult, Cimarron Review, Rhubarb, Guernica, Aster(ix) Huizache, and others. She has published two poetry chapbooks, Ain't Country Like You (Digging Press) and Shelter Management (dancing girl press) and her full-length poetry collection, Village Mechanics, is forthcoming from FlowerSong Press in 2023. Recordings of her oral history project, “Rebels, Exiles, and Bridge Builders: Cross-Cultural Encounters in the Campos Menonitas of Chihuahua” can be found on the Darp Stories YouTube channel.