La Zagara

Sandstone and shale, bare rock.
La zagara, orange blossom flowers.
Eucalyptus, hibiscus,

green wooden shutters.
Your sister’s third-floor condo:
Knotted kilim rugs, shiny marble floors.
A silver candelabra is lighted.

Shuffling gait: Parkinson’s hand tremor.
Nonna Guiseppa’s voice, a soft, hoarse rasp:
in her confusion, she sees her
long-dead infant daughter.

Maroon crocheted shawl over shoulders.
Sapphire sea: volcanic Sicilia.

Red oleander, poisonous shrubs.
A stiff, spine-covered rind:
cactus pear edible berry fruit.
Overseas trip with four children:
one-year-old son in a stroller.

And I, your Magyar wife.
The ugliness, your violence.
Fried merluzzo, cod, with lemon sauce.
Purple artichokes. Black olives. Pecorino.
A glass of white wine. Watermelon.

After dinner we play tombola.
Nonna’s voice, a soft, hoarse rasp.

Green wooden shutters.

La zagara, orange blossom flowers.

~ Ilona Martonfi

Ilona Martonfi’s Blue Poppy (Coracle Press, 2009) is her first book of poems. She is the founder, producer/ host of reading series at The Yellow Door and Visual Arts Centre in Montreal. Co-founder of Lovers and Others. Recipient of the 2010 QWF Community Award.

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