Grandmother’s Mortuary Dress

Lacemaker with bone bobbins:
braided mesh with slim, oval leaves.
Plum on black silk.

As the bobbins twist together
plait the threads —

elderly ward at the St-Jérôme Hospital.

I imagine Grandmother Mariska,
late into the night —
sewing your mortuary dress:
Tiny silver buttons.
lace ruffles as for a child.
Carpathian Mountains,
by the river Mures,

white-washed adobe house.
Greatgrand-father György deserting the family.
Victoria farmed out her daughter.
Kept her three sons.

Four years of grade school.
Servant girl at nine.

Late into the night —
you sew your burial gown:
tiny silver buttons.
Bobbin lace.
Laurentian foothills ridge:
You died of diabetes
after one year at the St-Jérôme Hospital.

I didn’t go to your funeral.

Didn’t tell you, my husband beats me.

Late into the night.
Tiny silver buttons.

Peasant lace:

Blue Poppy, Ilona Martonfi's first book of poems, was published by Coracle Press in 2009. She is the founder, producer and host of the Yellow Door and Visual Arts Centre Poetry and Prose Readings in Montreal.