Baarìa & Chimanigasse






Through the kitchen window:

walnut trees in bloom. Forsythia.


Alpine foothills, granite cliffs

by the old railroad tracks, Chimanigasse,

the Magyar refugee camp

Ungarnlager Korneuburg —


220 beds, 270 mattresses, 25 tables, 28 chairs.



Lime wash paint tinted ochre brown.

In the root cellar: Kraut, Kartoffel,

Zwiebel, white onions, purple sugar beets.


Only yesterday, the river Danube,

apa, my father, fleeing in an Opel truck

across Petöfi pontoon bridge.


Along forest roads Budapest to Vienna

dune grasses, osier reed, listening:

yesterday, on the last stop of the tram line.

Our house on Liszt Ferenc utca 14 —

four-story, red sandstone, and marble.


Soviet soldiers marching in the streets.

100-day siege in an air raid cellar.


Yesterday, I packed things:

my doll, Baba, my plush dog,

family, friends, and several neighbours.

Grandmother Kisanyuka.

Some carried trunks and bags,

mother packed the cross-stitch tablecloth,

she embroidered.


Three daughters, ages four, three, and one.

Pink hair ribbon, ankle boots,

goose down duvet and pillows.


By the old railroad tracks:

Ungarnlager Korneuburg.


Wild sorrel. Plum trees. The river.




Mi chiamo la straniera,


I am the stranger,


bear the sapphire sea

carry a forgotten


ocher yellow


violet mud walls

protected from hot dry sirocco

desert sand from the Sahara


because of my daily walk

to the abandoned limestone quarry

il giardino ipogeo


the hypogeum cave garden


it is here in this manor

Baglio di Baarìa, Sicilia

cobblestone streets

prickly pear cactus




slopes of Mount Catalfamo

I carry a place

Bāb al-Gerib (gateway of the wind),

Where was I? I ask


the Magyar wife

so tired, so tired


his mother Giuseppa had warned her son

about this strange woman


the elopement —

pregnant nuptials


the man, who grew oleander trees

Ilona Martonfi published Blue Poppy, (Coracle.) Black Grass, (Broken Rules). Producer of The Yellow Door and Visual Arts Centre Readings. QWF 2010 Community Award.