A new poem by Ilona Martonfi


Red desert sand,
blue-black cliffs. Lemon sky.

The smell of fried arancini and calzone.
Sicilian fishing port, Cefalu:
Cobblestone streets, lungomare.

Steep staircase to climb on the way back:
Hotel Santa Lucia half-pension.

You don’t call me: “Love.” I don’t ask you.
Bare walls in the bedroom.
No pictures. No paintings.
“Sleep with the children!” you say.

Megalithic sea walls.
The Gothic Porta dei Pescatori:
Gnarled olive tree. Stone pine.

Parching your skin
hot dry sirocco:

Nothing but orange-yellow dust.

The Arab washhouse, il lavatoio,
where villagers wash clothes.

Woman in silk sarong.
“Open the shutters,” I say.

Song of the male cicada.
Scent of jasmine. Eucalyptus.