Song of the Sybil: fifth lesson & A rented box



Song of the Sybil: fifth lesson


The Sybil foretold the end will come. The house deserted. Broken grey barn wood fence. The family beyond Curé-Clermont Street. Mount Royal foothills. Split into layers. Perennial river grass. Parched earth. Not a living thing, no sparrows singing. Not even the wind. Everyone left. Orange-teal sky. Time was different. Look— what were those wild roses years ago? Until, they too will vanish. He says: “I will divorce you!”

Told the vision to no one, waited from year to year, hoping it might not happen. But the aged seer speaks through you.

And you remember when you were silent. Gave birth to a son, worked in your real estate office, planted two McIntosh apple trees.

You remember, you chose Pina, madrina —godmother to your son. Remember when you took family trips with your four children to Europe and North Africa. Seashells, stones collected on Cape Cod.

And you remember recurrent dreams about sister Erna living in Los Angeles, your friend Sylvia. Mopped ceramic floor tiles with cold vinegar water. Read Tolstoy, self-help books. Prayed to The Madonna: “Why does he beat me? What should I do about my marriage?” Space was different. But then you thought into the parade of black-tinted colourless.

Acrylic. Easels. Gesso. Charcoals, gouaches, and oils, of your children. A piano stood in the living room.





A rented box


You store valuables in an azure metal bank safe deposit box on Victoria Street in Westmount, Quebec: vaulted and sealed your birth certificate. Diphtheria immunization wrinkled yellow paper, doctor signed 1942, Liszt Ferenc utca 14, Pest, Budapest. Four passports issued to Mártonfi Ilona: Magyarország Útlevél. Deutschland Reisepass. Passaporto Italiano. Canada Passport. High School equivalency diploma. Concordia University Bachelor’s degree in Applied Human Sciences. 18K gold necklace, a gift from your late mother-in-law Giuseppa Mulè. Diamond ring. Ten thousand dollars for your green funeral expenses. One downtown studio apartment double key. Hungarian church marriage certificate. Judgment of divorce against your batterer spouse. The palais de justice courthouse in Montreal, document signed October 18, 1994. Your four childrens’ birth certificates. Blue cards for Law 101, the Certificate of Eligibility to attend English language schools. Your seven grandchildren’s birth certificates.



Ilona Martonfi is the Author of two poetry books, Blue Poppy, (Coracle, 2009.) Black Grass, (Broken Rules, 2012). Forthcoming, The Snow Kimono, (Inanna, 2015). Writes in Vallum, The Fiddlehead, Montreal Serai, Steel Chisel, and elsewhere. Founder/producer Yellow Door and Visual Arts Centre Readings, co-founder of Lovers and Others. QWF 2010 Community Award.