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My Mother Pieced Quilts

2 Pages 467 Words

A Tapestry of Memories

The poem, “My Mother Pieced Quilts,” by Teresa Palomo Acosta, focuses on the mother’s talent for weaving memories out of old fabric that is otherwise useless. The cloth has come from many different sources, each with it’s own nostalgic significance-communion dresses, wedding gowns, nightclothes, and “dime store velvets” (Acosta, “My Mother Pieced Quilts”, Exploring Poetry, Explanation). Each loose strip of fabric reminds the narrator of her childhood memories-the good ones and the bad.
“They were just meant as covers”… (line 1) says the narrator. However, the “October ripened canvases” (line 6) that the narrator awoke to each morning meant much more than a simple blanket to ward off chill, but instead, a scrapbook of the past. The speaker watches as the mother compiles this scrapbook of fabrics that have outlived their usefulness. By recalling how the loose edges of cloth were tucked in by the mother’s needle, the speaker also remembers how the mother would tuck in the kids at bedtime (lines 21-22).
Each scrap seems to tell its own story, from curtains in a house in Michigan to a “Santa Fe workshirt” (line 25). All of the pieces remind the speaker of a time, place or season in which they were used. By relating these associations, the speaker is commenting on how memory itself is pieced together like ragged scraps (“My Mother Pieced Quilts”, Explanation).
The poem continues to identify the good memories that the mother causes by shaping together the pieces of fabric until it speaks of the black funeral dress (lines 35-36). The mother wore this somber black silk to her mother’s funeral and includes a star-shaped scrap of it in one of her quilts. By mentioning the good memories as well as the painful, the speaker is reminding us that all memories and experiences are combined of lights and darks, good times and bad (Acosta, “My Mother Pieced Quilts”, Exploring Poe...

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