A Calla Lily for Maria


If you sign here, no mas

dolor, it takes away the pain, if you don’t,

your baby might die, Maria says

on the PBS documentary, describing the coercion

at the LA County hospital in the seventies.

Women went in to have babies.

They left sterilized.


Afterwards, the night sky scatters grieving women

denied the human right to bear a child,

they are dusted in despair.

The seeds of bloom are shattered

across the American landscape.


In my dream, Maria sits at the river’s edge.

Her baby has sprouted calla lilies on its head.

She snaps one off, uses its turgid spike

to sweep the bottom of the riverbank

for dried up eggs. Her starved alma

drinks the yolks to slake its thirst,

refilling what’s been pillaged from her body.

A shooting star burns the sky with silver rain.


Her case was brought to trial, long overdue.

Spitting blood of unborn babies

the judge proclaimed,

the cultural background of these women

contributed to the problem.


I scream at the news, I slap the choking air,

his words, venom, spewing from a headless snake.

I channel Maria’s stomping foot nailing him down.

Does our language, color or background

make us less valuable, Maria?

No, alma. They had no right.


The calla lily stands for resurrection.

We can blossom once again with grace

bearing any sterile depth.

Louisa Muniz is a freelance writer and a reading/writing tutor. She lives in Sayreville, NJ. She is a recent retired reading specialist and takes pride in having been a National Board Certified teacher who traveled to China to learn about their educational system. She has a Master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction from Kean University. Her work has been published in Rose Red Review and is forthcoming in Snapdragon: A Journal of Art & Healing. She is currently working on her first poetry chapbook.