‘Gesso (Daughter)’ Ilona Martonfi

Seventeen years Ma lives here, a studio loft. Nine foot ceilings. Downtown Shaughnessy Village, Montreal. Third floor, elevator, balcony. She still has the unframed blue nude oil I painted, the year she left Pa. “I don’t like my earlier work,” I’d tell her. “I’ll gesso over it. Use the canvas again.” White is never ours, never something we do;

sunlight stripped bare. Concrete walls. Hardwood floors. Ask us: “Don’t you miss home? A house, apple trees, raspberries, pink wild roses. Do you know why I paint on washi paper?” Eldest sister’s shuttered story. Big ill body. Glassy-eyed psychiatric ward. Excavated from the fabric of a photograph. Plum-purple collage. A girl playing acoustic guitar. Songs on Zoloft drugs. Ma still hoards her long silk taffeta wedding dress. White gloves. Tulle veil. Pearl necklace.

—Excerpt, You Don’t Bring Me Flowers To The Psychiatric Ward: A Memoir


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.