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The Mothers of Exile


ISSUE:  Fall 2007

in that orphan landscape
of family legends
of dangerous longings
in those lands of foreign
languages
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
stories
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


Translated by Roberta Gordenstein

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