Cornelia Hornosty (nee DeYoung) has a BA in French Literature from Oberlin College, Ohio, with studies in Grenoble, France, and an MA in French Literature from McMaster University. She has published poems and fiction in a number of Canadian literary magazines, including Canadian Literature, Canadian Forum, Queen’s Quarterly, Malahat Review, New Quarterly, Grain, Pottersfield Portfolio, and Dalhousie Review. She has three collections— Voice with Flowers, Under the Beaks of Millions, and The Inner Romaine of Our Lives— published by Borealis Press in Ottawa, and a chapbook—Small Lake with Pine Trees—published by Leaf Press.

Monday's Poem

© Cornelia Hornosty

Sailing Ship

How memories slip down levels
into ferns, flower beds,
how they find solace
in lemon-coloured leaves.
Sun filters baby days,
and there's the movie of a mother
carrying a little baby girl.
The woman squints her eyes,
smiles helplessly in the brightness,
pauses at the corner of the house,
just before her own mother
comes to take the child away,
out of the light and fresh air.

Years later,
in rare moments of confidence,
when her mother is upstairs
in a bedroom listening
to Bible programs about sin
and aberrant behaviour,
the woman sews a needlepoint scene,
fashions a harbour, a sailing ship.
Where is this vessel headed,
she wonders quietly
when no one is listening,
where am I? And distress
doesn't lend itself
to coloured wool strands,
the needle she selects,
her private musings
in the dining room
where two blonde children
with little round faces
are wielding crayons
carefully within the lines
of figures in colouring books
and feeling safe as long
as they don't make a mistake.

In the sewing scene, faceless ladies
wearing amethyst blue gowns
stand on shore, wave stiffly
under a watery aquamarine sky,
taupe clouds. Cut-out trees
with flat green leaves
like splayed knitted gloves
beckon the girl and boy
to sit still,
be on their best behaviour,
wait for something.

An acrid fear
lurks in sleeves
surrounding little taut arms.
Be quiet, you children, mother pleads,
your father's away saving lives,
and your grandmother's reading
her Bible. Sit very still
and wait

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