Ilona Martonfi

My Brother’s Ashes on Puget Sound

Estuaries, salt marshes

shrill cry of seagulls
cyan blue sky
as if I couldn’t do it all alone
this elegy for brother Joe.

A Pierce County Sheriff’s patrol boat
cremains scattered during high tide
case numbers of the forgotten

childhood pictures in black and white
didn’t make many friends, a red tricycle
wooden rocking horse,
but this is an August Wednesday

I run to the refugee hut
run to the plum trees, Öcsi, little brother
dropout, began to deal drugs
married a couple of times,
three daughters and twin sons

notebook of memories, letter fragments
if you die, and nobody claims your body

a chaplain reading your name:
Martonfi, Joseph Frank (case #15-0971) Age 66,
Died June 4, 2015 in Tacoma

ringing a small bronze bell.
Is this your loved one?

Weren’t we here? And, you here too?

It’s a small space that boat

poetry for your absence.

Ilona Martonfi is the author of three poetry books, Blue Poppy (2009), Black Grass (2012), The Snow Kimono (Inanna, 2015). Forthcoming, Salt Bride (Inanna, fall 2019). The Tempest (Inanna, 2020). Publishes in five chapbooks, journals across Canada and abroad. Her poem “Dachau on a Rainy Day” was nominated for the 2018 Pushcart Prize. Founder and Artistic Director of Visual Arts Centre Reading Series and Argo Bookshop Reading Series. Recipient of the QWF 2010 Community Award.