I have known Natalia Treviño since 1989, when she took an American literature class from me. She went on to take practically every course I offered, including creative writing workshops, ultimately earning her M.A. in English at UTSA with an emphasis in Creative Writing. But after she left our university and completed her MFA at the University of Nebraska, we continued to meet regularly about our poems with a small group of other former students. And we meet to this day. Natalia has become a life-long precious friend and incredibly valuable editor of my own work. Her first book is Lavando La Dirty Laundry (Mongrel Empire Press, 2014). A chapbook, VirginX, was published in 2018 by Finishing Line Press. She is currently working on a book-length series of poems exploring the various faces of La Virgin. “Maria Dolores, Mother of Sorrows Quilts” also features Natalia’s bisabuela, her own illiterate great grandma.
MARIA DOLORES, MOTHER OF SORROWS QUILTS
She sewed them from the old
collected fabrics. Gathered the colors,
wanted to arrange them well: this
tie dotted with green diamonds, this,
the rough cotton, color of sand, this,
the pinstripe, cream-stained apron.
No money for new blankets.
Told herself the baby would
grow into these colors, orange kitchen
cloth with slips of brown leaf,
her father’s clothes among the few things
she owned. His light blue wedding shirt,
good for a pale sky if she could
map out the bits correctly, dictate
their final place in this big, new picture
she drew with her needle and thread.
The black pants thin as tissue now, needed doubling
to last as a part of a tree, pines
with the green tie, roses with a kerchief
that was almost new. But more. She wanted more
than a sky, evergreens, and the hint of scattered
seeds. Things the baby would see
as a man: a flower of gold
sprouting from a mother-spirit,
flash of silver on the breast of a bird;
would have sewn the pieces together
with her own veins if she could.
He will grow into this picture,
she told herself of the Child,
would use it to hold his own one day
children. At the time of this stitching,
she simply did not know,
did not know people
could carry in them
carry in them so much