Academic journal article The Virginia Quarterly Review

The Mothers of Exile

Academic journal article The Virginia Quarterly Review

The Mothers of Exile

Article excerpt

in that orphan landscape

of family legends

of dangerous longings

in those lands of foreign


solitary customs

and houses submitted to the silence

of early snowfalls

the mothers in exile

the widows of exile

the wives who followed their

husbands into exile

tell their children


about that country with eight hundred volcanoes

about a dictator, lifelong, eternal

about the glory of the poetry that flourished

among the araucaria pines

about the sacred laurel tree

and the enchantresses of the forests

credulous in their faith singing and shouting

the children who speak in Italian and French

who will never imagine their mothers' exiled hearts

nod their heads in agreement

and reply with the credulous smile of all children and one of

them asks you to tell stories about Chile

land of fear

land of fog

land of the dead who are lost

land of the disappeared

land of the tortured

and the mothers in exile

say that tonight they will tell only

a love story, a fairy tale

where nothing and everything are true

where the echo of the birds seemed like a dancing violin

and that night the children fall asleep

the mothers lay their lips on their foreheads

they are cold

but still they open the windows

it is summer in Chile they say imagining the grapes and the lemon trees

the plenitude of pleasant memory above the dream of the innocents

[Author Affiliation]

Marjorie Agosin was born to Jewish Chilean parents and as an adolescent moved with her family to the United States to escape the military coup that overthrew Salvador Allende's Socialist government. …

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