A new poem by Ilona Martonfi

 Black Anise Licorice

Four years I have seen her in blue
psychiatric ward hospital gown,
                        hazel eyes hollow,
sitting at the edge of the bed,
sharing with depressives, the suicidal.

Now, my eldest daughter, thirty-three
rises from her metal bed at St-Mary’s Hospital
to walk with her mother to the dining room.
Clay mug of coffee, meds.
She doesn’t know how long she will stay.

                                                                        I want to ask:
How does it feel to lose your children?
Divorce court. Youth Protection court.
Daughters, five, three. Son, five months old.

Supervised visitation.

Chronic sarcoidosis of the lungs:
Scar granulomas. Wheezing. Pneumonia.
The following evening I see her at the ward.
The electric doors shut. Buzz open. Shut.
Plexiglass nurse’s station.

My daughter wears her glazed eyes.
                      Hours pass. Maybe three or four.

Married only seven years.

Red cotton t-shirt. Coca Cola.
Boombox music.
“I just want to get out of here,” she says.

She never returned home —

A splintered picnic bench in a park:
Green watermelon sliced up.
Prosciutto, mozzarella, panini rolls.
Black anise licorice.

Her children in Anjou.