Junior Aniela Holtrop is recognized by Smith College and Princeton University for her outstanding poem “Arpilleras.”

Junior Aniela Holtrop, a finalist for a state-wide Maine Literary Award last spring, has just been recognized by Smith College and Princeton University for her outstanding poem “Arpilleras.”  Her piece was awarded an honorable mention in Princeton’s Leonard Milberg ’53 High School Poetry Contest.  She was also among eight semi-finalists selected from hundreds of submissions in Smith’s 14th Annual Poetry Prize for High School Girls in New England and New York.  Bravo, Aniela!

Arpilleras
      The Quilters of Chile

The table is a universe of color.
Canvas bags, extra threads;
Saved.
Not the husbands.
Nor the sons.
But the threads and scraps
Our needles stitch into their likeness.

Nightmares of black cars.
White Xs marking the front door,
Last time I saw him.
Tears on my cheeks now.
Stitch.
Red thread.
I need more red thread.

I sew the light blue sky,
Mountains.
I make small dolls,
Each holding a tiny stick gun,
Wearing all black.
Women with braided arms
Cover their invisible mouths.

The silenced screams
Of silenced women,
Quilted.
Meeting in church basements,
Hoping the world finds our packages,
Slipped through customs,
Sent in secret to beyond dictatorship.

I sew the buildings.
Stitch wishes into the fabric,
Women brave enough
To hold up bold banners.
March.
Each story is a thousand colors.
Every color once bright, now faded.

I carefully add words
To the miniature protest.
“Donde. Estan.”
Where are they?
Not the extra thread.
Nor the cotton, or burlap.
The husbands, the sons.