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Meaning of Teresa Palomo Acosta’s “My Mother Pieced Quilts” Essay

Various threads are needed to form one unique quilt. Similarly, a mother quilts together the best and diverse threads of life to form one unique identity in which a child lives with forever. In the poem “My Mother Pieced Quilts” by Teresa Palomo Acosta, the mother chooses the different aspects of the quilt, forms those aspects to make one quilt, and releases that one quilt on which it lives. In the beginning, the mother must choose the best treads to form the quilt.

The mother chooses how to make her offspring through choosing what she will fit best. Just in the beginning of the poem, the mother must decide which piece fits best in her quilt. The mother “[. . .] shaped patterns square and oblong and round / positioned / balanced” (13-15) and each shape is a different piece and each piece is quilted together to form one quilt. This relates to human life in that the mother the act of choosing the best shapes relates to choosing the best characteristics to put into the final product of a child’s identity. The mother not only has to choose shapes, but also has to decide on the colors of the pieces.

She has to consider “whether to put the lilac purple of easter against the red plaid of winter-going- / into-spring / whether to mix a yellow with blue and white [. . .]” (31-33). The different choices of colors symbolize the various types of personalities in which a child is form with. The mother must choose the different shapes and colors or the different characteristics and personalities in order to form one quilt or one identity that she pieces together.

After the mother chooses the pieces, the mother must use each of the different pieces of identity to form a child’s identity. The mother starts with a blank canvas and goes through the process of “[. . .] stalking out the plan:” (30). The blank canvas symbolizes the child who is filled by the different parts that the mother gives. The mother “[. . .] stretched and turned and re-arranged” (23) each piece so that each piece would fit in perfectly. The mother fills the canvas to form one finished product, the child. The mother goes through the timely process to piecing the quilt together which parallels the act of the mother forming a child’s identity which requires a mother to perfectly form an identity. Although the process of making the quilt ends at the finished product, the finished product’s life does not end.

The individual’s identity which is formed by the work of the mother carries on to the future. The finished identity lives eternally because “[. . .] every morning [one awakes] to these” (5). The identity becomes a part of that person and never leaves. The identity which is “knotted with love” (54) by the mother “[. . .] sing[s] on” (55). The person that was formed by the mother is able to live. The personification of the quilts singing parallels to a person’s identity living into the future.

After the timely process of working, the mother accomplishes the final task of forming a child’s identity. The process of choosing, quilting, and releasing signifies the beginning, middle, and future. Both, the mother who shapes the child and the child who lives on, take part in the life process of forming a single identity. After forming that single identity, it lives on to repeat the process.

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