‘That Lying Bastard’ by April Ford

To cremate your love
plus a nice graveside service
will cost him his life

 


APRIL FORD lived in the U.S. for a decade, where she taught undergraduate creative writing. She has now returned home to Montreal. Her debut novel is forthcoming spring 2020 with Inanna Publications, and her debut story collection was released by SFWP in 2015. She is the recipient of a 2016 Pushcart Prize, and her work has been featured in various journals including Grain, The Lascaux Review, and QWF Writes. She is Associate Publisher of SFK Press. www.aprilfordauthor.com

Copyright © 2018 by April Ford. All rights reserved.

‘Dream Big’ by Désiré Betty

dream big by désiré betty

10″ by 20″, Acrylic on Canvas

 


DÉSIRÉ BETTY has long explored the spiritual serenity that manifests itself through her artistic expression she calls ‘Perpetual Freedom Art.’ Her passion for the arts led her to pursue a career in Architecture; broadening her quest for constant creativity from the canvas to the built environment. Although content in her profession, there is nothing more fulfilling than creating art.  The characters she paints are mostly women or seemingly androgynous figures along with complimentary abstract pieces that represent their creative realms. Her inspiration for each piece is driven by her fascination with the power of aesthetics. Her characters represent a portrayal of revitalized appreciation for inner strength and conviction by way of shedding the facade that several inherently assume in order to meet the societal status quo.  This collection of work reflects interests focused on elegance, fluidity, exaggerated proportions, dignified characters and creative environments. Her aim is to draw awareness to the perpetual interplay of ego, psyche and soul.

Copyright © 2018 by Désiré Betty. All rights reserved.

‘Betrayal’ by Vincent Poirier

Long has it been, and
we have small minds
in lieu of profound thought.
Greedy for a fallacy,
human, flaws inherent
run, afraid of time,
catching up, would
raise hell, to satiate
innate desires. He has.
That is the betrayal.

 


VINCENT POIRIER started writing at age 16 in French. He later got accepted at the Université du Québec en Outaouais for a BA in professional translation, and started writing in English to widen his possibilities both as a poet and in life.

Copyright © 2018 by Vincent Poirier. All rights reserved.

‘Kinderchor’ by Ilona Martonfi

kinderchor

Illustration by Andres Garzon

 

Begin to deliver a verdict a long time coming: “Guilty. Guilty.”

On the first day of fourth grade, Teacher gives me a pet name: “Schwarze, write on the blackboard.” 

My hands get dirty with chalk. Teacher touches my leg above the white ribbed knee sock.

The town Neutraubling G’Schichtn–Stories. I, Ilonka, as a pigtailed nine-year-old war refugee from Budapest, in 1951, was abused by Herr Anton Mathes, my teacher in Lederhosen. The man with a slight lisp. 

“Open your songbook,” Teacher says. 

My mother, Magda, buys me a Liederbuch. Boys and girls sing a Volkssong from Memelland with clear loud voices, “Zogen einst fünf wilde Schwäne, Schwäne leuchtend weiß und schön.” Once flew five wild swans, swans white and beautiful. 

“Schwarze, you can’t sing,” Teacher says. 

Dieter, Rudi, and I don’t make the school choir. Saturdays, I hear the children from the street, the Schlangenbau school windows wide open. 

Bavarian Forest chalk hills ridge. Danube River wetlands. Willow reeds and forsythia grow in bomb craters. A small pond. Just fifty meters downhill from where SS war prisoners worked in the factories of the Luftwaffe Messerschmitt airport. Flossenbürg subcamp for Russians, Poles, and Jews. A mass grave by the round well. 

Our renovated two-room Volksschule, the classrooms: tall windows, heavy oak door. And in Bavarian tradition, schoolchildren dress up and celebrate carnival during February Fasching at the Hofbräuhaus. Parade through winter streets. Snow on the concrete airport runway. 

Sankt Nikolaus and Christkindl. Iced gingerbread, Pfeffernüsse. My new fairy tale book by Brüder Grimm creates the surreal magic of witches and princesses during my childhood. Langer’s hill, where we take our wooden toboggans.

Gustav Jaich, the school principal. Teacher, Elfride Scholz, a young war widow. The Catholic priest, Pfarrer Böhm. Saturdays sewing and knitting with a Dominican nun, Schwester Anna. First Communion and Confirmation at the Regensburger Dom. Black and white school photos.

During that fourth year, my teacher, Anton Mathes, rides his scooter from Regensburg: Medieval Roman town, ten kilometers distance. Stalks this refugee settlement, families from Schlesien and Sudetenland. We are the only Magyars living in the old airport: Halle #7 by the Moosgraben creek. Butter yellow poplar trees. Birch trees. Using his classroom to meet kids, Teacher grooms relationships with the pre-pubescent. Married with two young sons. 

Movie days in the classroom, shades drawn. Whirring film reels. Classmates who see the fondling. Teacher stands behind me, his big body in the dark. My flowered cotton dress. My pigtails. I tell my best friend, Ingrid, one time. 

“Ich weiss es schon,” she says. I already know it.

Time and again, it is I whom Teacher chooses to target.

Five decades later, now living in Montréal, Canada, I still keep contact with old school friends. Send Christmas cards to Helga, the principal’s daughter. Spill my story in an email.

“Did you tell anyone?” Helga asks.

On and on it went. Year after year after year. He also molests boys. Finally, Anton Mathes is imprisoned. Sent into early retirement. 

“Er war in die Berge verzetzt, weisst du schon warum,” my friend Ingrid tells me. I am taking an overseas vacation in Europe with my family. Riding a train to Neutraubling. He was sent to the mountains, you know why.

Propped up by the illusion of a teacher’s work. Anton Mathes has nowhere to run, no tale to tell. 

“Guilty. Guilty.”

That happened to me. I thought I was the only one keeping it secret. Yes, it had happened. That’s where he parked his scooter.

 


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) and 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.

‘Toy Train’ by Julia Marsiglio

I miss you baby girl.
Can I kiss you baby girl?
You’ll start walking pretty soon,
Under the cold December moon.
I’ll bundle you in many layers
And chase away all your cares
With Christmas cheer and a merry tune.
Baby girl, your eyes, how they shine!
You’re too young to say, so I must divine
That this toy train will do quite fine
For my baby girl, who’s just turned one,
Or at least in another life, so I would have done.

 


JULIA MARSIGLIO is a Canadian writer currently located in Montréal, Québec, who has been writing poetry and fiction since she was a child. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish language and literature from the University of Alberta in 2011.

Copyright © 2018 by Julia Marsiglio. All rights reserved.

 

‘Rifle’ by Conor DiViesti

Rifle

Illustration by Andres Garzon

 

Pete held the bundle of white cloth and in it, the rifle. If someone were looking from far away as he stood knocking at Marta’s door, they might’ve thought he was offering her a bouquet of flowers. Barry, who had been Pete’s best friend until he’d stepped on an IED, had restored the weapon. It was a Ross 1905. Barry’s great-grandfather had carried it at Second Ypres. 

Pete and Barry used to glare at it as boys, craning their necks up to where it hung above the fireplace. They’d shot bottles with it back in high school, drunk as hell. Pete once considered that instance as the rifle’s most dangerous action since it’d been pointed at Germans. 

That wasn’t true anymore.

Marta opened the door, and didn’t pretend to smile. “Is that it?” Pete nodded to her. “Come in then.”

She sat him down at the kitchen table and Pete laid the rifle against the checkered tablecloth. He didn’t roll it out.

“I thought we were done with everything,” she said.

“We are,” said Pete. “I’m just bringing it back from the station. Investigation determined it wasn’t… you know.” Murder. No one had said the word, even when Pete had gone through the motions of questioning Luke; Marta’s boy. Barry’s boy. 

Garrett McCoy was dead; the rifle’s first victim in a hundred years. They all knew it was an accident. Pete was just doing his job by following up.

“I don’t want it,” said Marta. “You take it. Barry would’ve liked that.”

Pete broke eye contact. He looked down at his wrist where the red poppy tattoo poked out from the cuff of his police uniform. It was the only colour work he had in a collection of black and grey. He tugged at the cuff and covered it, but it wouldn’t stay put.

Outside the kitchen window, Ian McCoy sat on the deck. Ian and Luke were so close that seeing Ian alone was jarring. The kid was peculiar, a real dork. He always had some tactile hobby on the go, like magic tricks or winging a yo-yo while other freshly teenaged boys fiddled with electronics. He sat motionless now, with no gimmick in his hands. Ian squinted up at the sun, letting the spring wind rustle his hair. His older brother used to rustle his hair like that.

“I need to speak with him one more time.”

“Ian?” Marta asked. “Go ahead.”

“No,” said Pete. “Luke.” Marta lowered her head like a bull.

“He’s been through enough. They both have.”

“Christ, Marta, I know. He shot someone. I promised his dad I’d look out for him. Accident or not that’s going to—” Pete stopped cold. Marta’s fists clenched at the tablecloth, shifting the rifle gently in her direction. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to say—”

“Go talk to him,” she interrupted. “When you’re done, I think it’s best you don’t come around for a while.”

#

Luke’s room was on the top floor of the house. Pete went in without knocking. Luke sat over a desk facing a window that looked out on the road. He was fiddling with a model tank. The poison stink of super glue hung heavy in the air. 

“You should open a window,” Pete said. Luke remained silent. Pete sat down on the bed near the desk. Beside Luke was a framed picture of soldiers posing in the desert. Pete realized Barry’s face would be among them and so didn’t look at it long enough to pick him out.

“I told you I didn’t do it on purpose,” Luke said as he lowered the turret onto the tank.

“I know, I believe you.”

“Thought he was a deer.”

“I know. I’m here to talk to you, see how you’re doing. Your mum’s worried.”

Luke looked up from his work. Pete couldn’t figure out if the boy’s eyes were red from lack of sleep, crying, or the fumes from the glue. “I don’t care about her,” said Luke.

“Fine,” said Pete, knowing—or hoping —the kid didn’t mean it. “What about Ian? His brother’s gone. He could probably use a friend around now.”

Something cracked in Luke’s hand. He swore and threw the turret at the window. It bounced away onto the floor. 

Pete sighed, thinking that maybe this was a bad idea. Best to let him be. He stood up and picked the tank turret up from the floor. As he crouched, he saw another framed picture in the trash bin. 

Ian and Luke stood at a creek dangling fish up for the camera. By the look of their faces, the photo was taken maybe four or five years ago. They beamed, big toothed and bright the way only ten-year-olds can. Garrett McCoy stood between them with his big arms draped over their shoulders. He’d been a handsome young man, barely twenty-five. The kind of guy two young boys would look up to.

“Garret was like a brother to you too, wasn’t he?” Pete set the broken turret back on the desk.

Luke spun in his chair and faced Pete. “No. He wasn’t.”

Pete let Luke be and headed back downstairs. He returned to the kitchen to pick up the rifle. As he opened his mouth to say goodbye, he froze in the doorway. 

Ian sat on Marta’s lap, his face buried in her chest. Both were weeping.

“I miss him too,” Marta said. 

She had held Pete like that once. The night they heard about Barry. Something in Pete’s gut stung. The same feeling as getting insulted when you’re too far in the drink. Like getting mad and knowing you’re taking it the wrong way.

Still, he couldn’t shake it. She’d cried like that for Barry. Didn’t seem right to give the same emotion to Garrett McCoy.

#

Pete got back in his cruiser and took one last look at the house, realizing he’d forgotten the rifle. He was thinking about going back for it when he caught Luke staring down at him from the top floor window. The boy didn’t return Pete’s wave and so he thought better of going back inside.

That was that. He pulled out of the front yard, the cruiser bobbing over the uneven gravel. 

“I don’t know if I’m going to make it back,” Barry had said the last time Pete managed to speak withhim.

“Don’t say that.”

“It’s true. We just… things are getting worse.”

“You can handle it.”

The phone signal buzzed through their pause.

“You look after Marta and Luke. If it happens.”

“It won’t come to that.” Pete hadn’t wanted to legitimize Barry’s mood, but he’d figured it was what his friend needed to hear. “You know I’ll take care of them,” he’d said. Barry sighed.

“Thanks.” The last word Barry spoke to him flew up from Kandahar and bounced back down. Pete had heard the smile in it even through the satellite phone. 

#

Pete wrote tickets and handled noise complaints through spring and summer; giving warnings to teenagers partying on the lake, putting Bradley Wilkes into the tank one evening after he’d thrown a pint glass at the bar. 

He didn’t go back to the house. When he saw Marta around town, in the supermarket or on the street, he’d nod and pull a smile over his face, but she returned his politeness less and less. Eventually he started ducking her.

He wrote letters but never sent them. One night he stayed up until four writing one for Luke to open on his eighteenth birthday. He threw in stories about Barry and himself, what they got up to as kids. The kind of bullshit they pulled on neighbors and the time they smashed the windows of their school rivals in the next town over. How he and Ian reminded him of Pete and his father. Things happen, he wrote. The letter wound up in the trash the next morning.

He was going off duty when his phone rang. He fished it out of his pocket and saw Marta’s name flashing on the screen.

Her voice was panicked and she was sobbing. Pete tried to calm her down, putting his work voice on. She screamed and he headed to his car, keeping the phone on speaker.

Pete roared down to the house and saw Luke and Ian going at it on the yard. The car was barely stopped as he ran out. Ian’s face was bloody and red. His fist went fast into Luke’s nose. It cracked hard and Luke took his friend down, breathing through his teeth and spraying blood.

Marta shouted from the porch.

Pete grabbed Luke by his shirt and tore him away. Ian lunged but Pete managed to hold him back.

“He knew Garret fished at the creek in the morning!” Ian’s voice was like shattered glass. “He could’ve gone anywhere else but he went there!”

“You’re lying, you’re a liar just like he was!”

They lunged again, thrashing at Pete’s arms as he held them apart. Nails tore into his skin.

“Stop it!” Pete shouted. “Cut it out, now!” He yanked Ian away toward the car like a dog. Luke paced behind them.

“Never come back here,” Luke said. Marta ran down from the porch and wrapped her arms around her son, struggling to keep him in place. Ian began to shudder and Pete loosened his grip on the boy. He turned back to Marta.

“I’ll take him home,” he said to her. She bit her lip and kissed Luke’s neck. 

#

He let Ian ride up front on the way back to town. The boy breathed heavy, fighting to keep himself composed.

“Here,” Pete said, offering him a tissue. Ian wiped clumsily at the blood drying under his nose. “You two shouldn’t fight like that,” Pete said, trying to kill the silence. “But I know good friends can get into it sometimes.” He smiled. “Hell, me and Luke’s dad used to get into all kinds of—”

“Please, shut up,” said Ian.

“Sorry.” They didn’t speak again for several minutes. The sound of tires and the gravel road filled the car with white noise. It made Pete nervous. “I’m just saying,” he said. “You both lost somebody close. You two should be helping each other, not throwing fists.”

“He just couldn’t stand it,” Ian said through a sniffle. “He thinks he got the short end, his dad dying and all. But Barry went to Afghanistan on his own account. Garrett never did nothing…” His eyes twisted close.

“Alright, let’s not talk anymore,” said Pete. He put his hand on the kid’s shoulder. In a few moments, Ian stopped shaking.

Garret’s truck still sat in the driveway when Pete pulled up the McCoy house. A for-sale sign hung in the rear windshield.

“That true what you said?” Pete asked as Ian cracked the door open. “About Luke knowing Garret would be there in the morning?”

“Doesn’t matter,” said Ian.

Pete watched the kid amble up his porch and through the front door. As he drove off, Pete thought about that picture in Luke’s trash and the fish dangling loosely in their hands.

#

Pete was on his way home but went out to the bar instead. Jenny welcomed him and had a 50 on the counter by the time he sat down. Pete thanked her and took a sip, looking out at the nick knacks on the wall; an old dart board with a crack in it, a map of the county turned yellow by cigarette smoke from back in the day. His eyes stopped on a photo taped to the mirror. Garret McCoy looked back at him, face glowing and arms around a group of friends sitting at the bar.

“Sad thing,” said Jenny.

“You bet.”

Karen O’Neill sat three stools down from Pete and gave him a nod. She had a look on her face like she had something to say. Pete waved her over. 

Karen was Marta and Luke’s neighbor. The dragon tattoo on her neck slithered as she stretched her way onto the stool beside Pete.

“How you doing?” Pete asked.

Karen shrugged. “Kid got suspended again. Dropped him at my mums to get a breather. How about you?”

“Went down to Marta’s,” said Pete. “Had to stop Luke Coley and Ian McCoy from killing each other.

“Shit,” said Karen. “Those poor kids.”

“Don’t I know it.”

“You ask me,” Karen said as if Pete did, “neither of them had much chance. That Marta, she should be ashamed of herself.” 

Pete set his beer down. “What’s that?”

“I ought to keep out of it,” said Karen. “But…”

“But you won’t,” he said, faking a smile. Karen had been that way since they were young. Karen shrugged.

“That one there,” she said, pointing to Garret’s picture. “I don’t much blame him. Young guys, you know how they are. Can’t resist it. When McCoy started pulling his truck up to her house late—and I mean real late—I thought ‘well, here’s a right tool, eh?’ Then when I seen Marta all tarted up, heading down the front steps to Garrett’s truck like James friggin’ Bond, I knew it was really her fault. She’s not that much younger than you and me. Like I said, should know better.”

Pete blinked. “Jesus, Karen.”

Karen tipped her beer to her lips, it bubbled as she nodded. Pete wondered how long ago she’d dropped her kid off. “I’m sorry, Petey. I know you and Barry was real close. You just… you should know.”

“How many times?”

Karen laughed. “Hell, more than a few. Maybe a year’s worth, I think.”

Pete paid for his beer and left Karen alone at the bar. He was meaning to walk home but when he got there he didn’t stop. He kept on down the road, stopping once at a gas station out of town to buy a pack of Viceroys and a lighter. 

He choked down two smokes and then threw the pack in a bush. Pete never admitted to himself he was heading to Marta’s, but wound up there all the same. It was well after dark and the air smelled like the wet piles of leaves collecting near the woods. October was almost through, only the second one since Barry’s death. If Garrett was shot in spring and him and Marta had been at it for almost a year by then, that meant Barry had still been alive when they’d started. 

Pete stood at the mouth of the driveway looking up at the house. He imagined Garrett’s truck rumbling up through here, sneaking as quiet as a pick-up could. Then he thought of Marta coming down the porch steps, smiling in an old dress so unworn it ought it be called new again.

Pete looked up from the porch to the top window. The light was on and Luke was staring down at him.

 


CONOR DIVIESTI writes and lives in Toronto, Ontario.

Copyright © 2018 by Conor DiViesti. All rights reserved.

‘Tightrope’ by Carmen Pintea

The party started out fine. Five glasses later
there she is, staring at the fish in the living-room
aquarium, squinting, sending out waves of unease
a tiny ticking bomb. The fish swim in circles, unnerved.

Her hate has dimmed the lights, hushed the voices,
yet the rooms stir, corners whisper. This coziness feels
so fragile, excitingly crashable. Someone needs to step in
tactfully, pluck the glass stem from those numb fingers,

speak in earnest. The right words can weave a tightrope
of sameness, hopefully bring her down to a safe
flow of mascara tears. Past that stage of puffy-eyed
sobbing, people can be relied on to look away, not

interfere, gossip still sizzling, but someone needs
to offer tissues, exchange confessions, hold the
washroom door, maybe hold back her hair, return her
to the giggles, cheese plates, charades, keep her

distracted, gratefully belonging, hanging on
to last shards of after hours until the damp
morning chill, split taxis, keep
her unmentioned the dreary day after.

 


CARMEN PINTEA moved to Canada from her native Romania in 2007. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from UBC in Vancouver. She currently lives in Montréal with her husband and baby daughter.

Copyright © 2018 by Carmen Pintea. All rights reserved.

‘A Poem for a Friend’ by Rita Gallagher-Murphy 

I met you way back when,
Thinking it was in ‘77,
Recalling your kisses so intense,
I thought I went to Heaven.

Seeking you out on social media,
It’s really been four decades later,
Your high school pic was clear to me,
And time hit me like a freighter.

We spoke briefly about our ex’s,
About our travels and our years,
Accepting the gains and losses,
Without mention of our fears.

Music is your founding passion,
It has always been mine alike,
You take walkabouts on the street
I do mine as an afternoon hike.

You ping me in the wee hours at dawn,
As you come to my early morning bed,
And though you are 2000 miles away,
I’m anticipating words that beg to be read.

I’m sure to be a tad melancholy,
Sometimes I ramble in the night,
You reply with music and song,
Stealing all my worries and my fright.

I’m so happy that I found you,
You’re my ping man and my friend,
Happy Birthday my Johnny man,
We’re not lovers yet — but it’s not quite “The End.”

 


RITA GALLAGHER-MURPHY is proud to be Montreal born and raised. Writing from the heart, and motherhood offers her ‘joie de vivre.’ Carrying a few credits for freelance articles written over the years, she found solace in writing after caregiving family members during their cancer crisis. Learning the benefits of being positive and patient, with lessons in humility, came at a cost. She now calls Calgary home with the scenic Canadian Rockies in her vantage point. She hopes that kindness will always prevail in the hearts that surround us, and enjoys searching for words that flow together like lovers in the night.

Copyright © 2018 by Rita Gallagher-Murphy. All rights reserved.

‘No Flowers on the Psych Ward’ by Ilona Martonfi

You Don't Bring Me Flowers

Illustration by Andres Garzon

 

“Katarina! Katarina!” A female patient shouts in her room. Her voice, coarse and grating. “Come Katarina!”

“Shut up! Shut up!” A male patient yells back.

My eldest daughter lives in St. Mary’s Hospital psychiatric ward. Her name is tacked on a billboard. Patient status: Number 1. Date: January 8, 2001. Her backpack, salt-stained ankle boots, and parka are in a locked room. She can’t leave the ward without her doctor’s permission.

A pink slip of paper. A psychiatrist’s report. Cleaning her overheated, cat litter smelling, hardwood floor apartment a couple of years earlier, I found the hospital report: cognitive disorder associated with epilepsy, chronic. Borderline retardation and psychotic episodes greatly impair insight and judgment. Patient regressed to the mentality of an eight-year-old. Suffers from generalized anxiety: Permanent. The contribution of a chronic disease, sarcoidosis in the lungs, to mental state, is unknown. The hospital is requesting public curatorship.

Room 23 is filled with the sound of a radio blaring. The sun is streaming in through vertical blinds, across apple-green walls. With four female patients to a room, I find her lying on the bed. Short-sleeved, sky-blue cotton gown. Strings, untied. 

“Marisa, you’re not cold?” I ask. She is recovering from pneumonia. Ten days on antibiotics. 

“The doctor came by. He is going to take another X-ray.” 

My daughter half-smiles. Close by, a middle-aged woman snores loudly, a rumpled lilac blanket pulled to her chin. A typical Sunday visit. 

“Who are you?” one roommate asks. 

“I’m Marisa’s mother,” I respond. Terse. Clipped. I don’t want to be here shaking this woman’s hand. Sadness grips and twists my unshed tears. An ill daughter’s life. A dirge. The special daughter. Our three other children are not ill. 

My ex-husband remarried. They don’t visit here. Don’t call here. And Marisa doesn’t call them either. Medicated and growing heavier from side effects. The white-painted door closed to the static noise of a television in the common room. 

The little girl in a red top and blue cotton shorts, Marisa, who stuttered in first grade, took a yellow school bus. A Montreal suburb bungalow. Apple trees in the yard. Geraniums. Jasmine. Wild roses. At six, she stood up to her father, “Stop hitting mama.”

I busy myself: Organize tapes and CD’s. Trash old magazines. Hang up fluffy white towels that are thrown on the bed.

“I want to leave the hospital. I want to go home!” Marisa complains. 

Six years earlier, she had a house and a home. At thirty-six, she is the mother of three. Two daughters and one son. Youth Protection Court. Divorce Court. “Unfit mother!” Full custody to the father. I supervise her children’s monthly visits in my downtown studio “to prevent accidental harm to children.” 

During two hours, she hugs and kisses her children. Not a single word escapes her chapped lips. She smiles. Hugs. Is angry with me because I supervise. 

“Will we become sick like mom?” they are worried. Beautiful, smart, sad, and lonely grandchildren. Raised by their father, his new partner, and great-grandparents.

“I want to leave the hospital,” Marisa continues her complaining. 

The Old Brewery Mission for women. Home for my homeless daughter. Marisa rents a curtained cubicle with a single bed at the shelter. Roams cafes nearby until suppertime.

She is here in the psychiatric ward, because she suffered a panic attack. Picked up by ambulance at metro Beaudry. “A woman sitting beside me, called for help,” she’d said.

“Do you need anything?” I ask now. 

“Let’s go to the cafeteria,” she says. 

“We’re going to the coffee shop,” I tell a doctor. 

“Marisa, you can’t go out today,” says her nurse. “You have permission for daily thirty-minute outings. Yesterday, you were fifteen minutes late coming back.” 

She doesn’t own a watch. Doesn’t wear earrings or a pearl necklace. Doesn’t wear chiffon dresses. Walks in snowstorms without a wool hat or scarf. Parka unbuttoned. Boots, unlaced. Short cropped hair, unkempt. She refuses to cut her nails. When married she washed her hands all the time, until they were red and sandpaper dry. Her lung sarcoidosis exploding into pneumonia. She likes to test the rules and the patience of the staff. Exhausted, she exhausts me. For years now.

We settle for the dining room. I watch her sip apple juice through thick plastic straws. Her large hazel eyes look at me innocently. “I don’t belong here with these people,” she says. I look around: the room is deserted, except for a man and a woman. They sit alone, staring at their stoneware mugs. Islands of maple wood tables shape their Sunday afternoon. A nurse hands out cups of medications. Gives one to my daughter. 

After an hour I get up to leave. Plant a kiss on her cheek. Promise to visit the following week. An electronic door buzzes me out. I quickly walk away. I look back only once: a woman dressed in a hospital gown and blue jeans. Unlaced running shoes. Marisa ambles slowly down the corridor.

 


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) and 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.

‘One For Every Glance’ by Atsushi Ikeda

Partly to consummate our
guilt, partly to escape what
went wrong, partly to drop
another excuse like spare
change at your feet.
Partly to drink ourselves to
sleep, partly to mistake a
kiss for “sorry,” partly to
forgive whoever it is that
weeps in the mirror.
Partly to fold this paper house
in half, partly to tease the
basement fire, partly to lease
one body to the other and
have nowhere to stay.
Partly to pinch us out of a
dream, partly to drink our
selves awake, partly to work
up the nerve to tell you
all my excuses as they
crackle at your feet.

 


ATSUSHI IKEDA is a 13.8 billion year old flicker. On the side, he is also a 1st year student at McGill. Plans to study the unspoken.

Copyright © 2018 by Atsushi Ikeda. All rights reserved.