‘Moosgraben’ by Ilona Martonfi

This is the classroom that doesn’t have
windows, doors, or time: movie days

all those who hear a knock on the door
it is the night moon. She comes in to turn down
the cot and place candy on your pillow.
And this moon is blue. Pigtailed nine year old.
You have a conversation with her

all those taking a walk by the Moosgraben creek
eery harbinger, Ilka

bare walls of your room. Gessoed canvases.
All those who look upon field and sky and
gnarled houses and refugee children,
sea of lime giving way to burnt flesh,
red brick, bomb craters. A bunker

long and narrow, not bigger than a dirt cellar,
a cold water tap, wood stove,
cotton curtains, oak table and chairs.
All those not losing the feeling of being underground
evenings lit by fireflies
six black-shawled nuns
cloister on Sudetenstraße

there are shelves up to the stucco ceiling
boxes and boxes festooned with
collage: photographs,
excised words, letters.
All those suns still high over chalk mountains,
the more times it is told. You disappear.
All those who talk about it

surrounded by scree, dogs barking,
the distance between present and past

by turns, you see the birch trees
purple lilacs and the plums. Sedges and grasses.
Shallow marshes.
Black and white films
whirring reels. In the silence
teacher touching you.


ILONA MARTONFI is the author of three poetry books, Blue Poppy (Coracle Press, 2009), Black Grass (Broken Rules Press, 2012) and The Snow Kimono (Inanna Publications, 2015). Forthcoming, Salt Bride (Inanna, 2019). The Tempest (Inanna 2020). Founder and Artistic Director of The Yellow Door and Visual Arts Centre Readings. QWF 2010 Community Award.

Copyright © 2018 by Ilona Martonfi. All rights reserved.

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