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Mother of Exiles

Every day I strap Peace to my chest and go
to work. I feed us both from my palm
full of seeds. Then Peace nurses and nurses

and I set to the sorting—sunflower, sesame,
poppy, pumpkin. Peace learns to use
her hands, then her legs. She tugs at my pants

asking for a spoon of avocado, or 
to litter the buns, the braids, the crescents
with what she’s been holding an afternoon

in the palm of her hand. A favorite poet
hoped badly for freedom. He did not will
an earthquake but one cracked the walls

of the military prison, setting him free. Some
years later, I would carry him, that Saint
of Justice, in my belly, pronouncing,

each morning, those eleven letters of
his name. Peace. I could have called her
the name of any flower. I could have 

called her Snow, or Victorious Woman.
She has always been quite small. And
because I am small, she will remain small.
    • Listen: Amanda Calderon reciting Mother of Exiles
Amanda Calderon

Amanda Calderon

Amanda Calderon's writing can be found in PoetryKenyon ReviewSangam House (India), Poets & Writers, and Words Without Borders ...