Poetry

August 14, 2018 Poetry , POETRY / FICTION

UN photo

 

By

Abigail George

 

 

 

A prayer for the dementia of the flesh

 

 

‘The flame in the snow’, in the field,

In the wild ‘song of songs’ wilderness of

The green sea. Its energy poured itself

Into me and names whispered secrets of men

And women, banning, detention, a political

South Africa, of apartheid, freedom,

The struggle, Biko, Bantu education,

Sharpville, and the call for democracy.

There’s a harvest there ‘born a crime’.

‘Unstoppable’. Today I wrote two poems

About Alice Munro’s short stories and

Haruki Murakami. Made a prayer list. Once

 

You flowed into me. Into my intellect and psyche.

Once you were so loved, grateful, and thankful

 

And then the book grew up, spread its

Wings and became the law of the land.

I thought you would bless your children

Abundantly. Give back instead of taking.

Instead you built churches (not such a bad thing)

And there are still many who wonder what

This word ‘free’ means. It feels more suburban

(Gated community behind high walls)

Than rural countryside. It feels as if

Something bright and clever is swimming

In the water liberally. The rub of love.

No newspaper. No Moses to rescue us from all our grief.

Then I remembered. I remembered all.

No cacophony underwater. No sprinting away.

This image shifts. It is always shifting.

 

Wildflowers are smiling at me. Watery melancholy

Found in the secret folds of our lungs. Phrases

Tender like sleeping houses. I belong here.

Mankind has secured me this excellent cave. Ghosts fall.

I’m alone. Darkness comes. Green sea washes

Over me. The birds rejoice in this cold.

Look at these blue wrists. Fist like a

Small bird. Mother is muse. Father is prince

Of his kingdom found at the edge of the river.

You are peace and struggle found in the

Northern seas. Found in my nation’s sea-lungs.

 

 

 

 

 

As I stand in this empty space

 

 

Only to write. Only this lonely existence

Keeping me alive. Living far-off. Living

Distant. We must make up for wasting life.

What I’ve discovered near to the city of

Johannesburg is this house of the good sun.

Branches with their own mother tongue.

Even shadows have dreams. Even they forget

Time. Wives contemplate the lives of

Their children in the park, or the man who

Cannot take his eyes off of them. I think of

My exit to Johannesburg. Old magazines

That I pack away alongside newspapers with

My photograph in them. I tell myself that

I am woman. I am woman. Study me.

Observe me. Dance with me. Come sit

 

With me at the fire, where the earth turns

Black underneath. I’d like you to come

To my house and see how I live now. How

I live without you. Without love. Without

The bondage of that seed, and the fact that there’s

No harvest that comes with damaged people.

I think of Diane Arbus, Susan Sontag. Anna

Akhmatova and Osip Mandelstam. Genna

Gardini and James Dean and Robert Lowell.

I think of our brief relationship buried in

Dust, in rehab, in another world’s earth, and

I think of rituals. Tiny, and perfect, and pure.

Because this is where I am now. Hearing

Voices from the distant past, or only from a

Few hours ago. You’re just a binary star.

Through the rain there’s a closing door.

With the flow of dark-green water over my shoulder

Blades, and I think to myself what song

Took you to the dance-floor of your wedding.

I think of the woman who is now your wife.

Her hand in yours. Trusting you in the same

Way I trusted you. I want you to take me into

Your silence. There was man. A bone-thin

Woman with blue wrists. Death, only death

Can hold you now, because here, yes, here in this

Ocean I have no dream-husband of my own.

 

 

 

 

 

To the resting place of the lighthouse

 

 

You’ve withdrawn from me with your half-

Closed eyes ragdoll child. You have the

Winter chill inside of you. I am many things.

Sad and intellectual. Wounded animal and

The greenness of a mountain. Your mouth

Is a dream, and a spring. Water and smoke

Painted inside the weather-body of my winter.

My mind’s eye. You’re my brave new world.

My progress lost in translation. I dream of

Fireworks in this house full of women who

Are daughters. I drink my coffee to the background

Noise of birdsong and morning traffic scattered throughout

In suburbia. Mum is nature’s bride. The only

Woman who was ever a bride in the house.

It was my sister who taught me that shoes

Have a supporting role to play in life. I’ve known

Low spirits and sunshine. Storms and music.

I’ve dreamed through the visions of Jean Rhys’

Life. I’ve been under and above. My aura is

My education. I’ve called that life-teacher, wise-

Master of philosophy. I am glory and bright-

Tiger. Animals inspire me. Some days I’m

Giving. Some days I’m sad. Some days have

Too much winter in them. The pizza is cold

But my body still craves it. One day the world

Will go on as if I never existed but I’m not

Frightened of that tomorrow anymore. This

House filled with infinite rainforest and drowning

People, plants that look like trees, a kitchen

That’s an island, rooms that I have to make

Pilgrimages across. And the ceiling above my

Head are filled with birds. When I shower I

Can hear birdsong in this madness palace.

I drink rose petal and vanilla tea with the morning

Newspapers. I think of the wrinkles, the

Fine lines around my mouth and eyes that

I am discovering now for the first time. The

White hairs on my head. Call it wisdom then

If you want to. Here is the dream-husband.

He appears in shadow. In the making of self,

And my ego, and identity as writer. There

Are roots, and unfinished desire. There are goals, and Biko,

And Fanon’s wretchedness to write about.

 

 

 

 

 

Just looking for a place to rest my head

 

 

I remember being asked about the three-faced

Dilemma of the light of the day. What it felt like.

I remembered the rain, thought of the abandoned

Journeys of my life into driftwood, sea, river as

It flows into ocean. When I think of you I think

Of walls of stone now. The tribal song of humanity.

The crashing waves of the roaring sea. You’re folly,

My atlas. My comforting progress. The little town

Where I live now lapping, licking salt at the wings of my soul

As I manage loss brick-by-brick. Thinking of the

Subtleties of romantic love. Standing at the water’s

Edge making observation after observation half-

Frozen by the day. The chill in the air. Once I was

Obsessed with you. Held back by nothing but a

Thread of sanity. I swim to reach you. Only to reach

You. My personal space is awash with heat, eddies

Of dust and whirlpools of stars. I’m imprisoned by

Something that I cannot put into words yet. Abandoned

By your hands I am slowly going mad. Part despair. Part

The Thursday afternoon that I found myself writing

This poem. I like you. I like you just the way you are.

To the drowned throne room slowly going mad in

Sickness and in health. This is a love story. Part

Solitude. Part loneliness. Let me go back. I keep forgetting

That this is a love story. You with the sad eyes,

I’m only brave for you. You make me feel safe.

She listens to cool music. I prefer classical music.

Opera. Mozart. Bach. She knows more about the

World than I do. Pick madness if you must. In my

House nothing else matters. I move through the

Air floating from lunatic to socialite. I sleep alone.

I have no lovers. I wake up when the birds sing.

I remember your blue shirt. I remember your blue jeans.

Once you were perfect, love but I do not exist in your

Field of dreams anymore, lover. These days I lose

Myself in museums and art, books, music, the radio,

Watching documentaries. I think of you by my side.

Those good days. I’m sure of one thing. My proper

English. That death will come for all of us. I think

Of writing into the energy of the night, the silent and

Holy and sacred and lonely night that is forever holding

Me hostage. You’re part of the greater good again

For now. The sharks in the early, early, early morning.

 

 

 

 

 

Abigail George

Pushcart Prize nominee Abigail George is a South African-based blogger, essayist, poet and short story writer. She briefly studied film at the Newtown Film and Television School followed by a stint at a production company in Johannesburg. She has received two writing grants from the National Arts Council in Johannesburg, one from the Centre for the Book in Cape Town, and another from ECPACC in East London. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Aerodrome, Africanwriter.com, Bluepepper, Dying Dahlia Review, ELJ, Entropy, Fourth and Sycamore, Gnarled Oak, Hackwriters.com, Itch, LitNet, Mortar Magazine, Off the Coast, Ovi Magazine: Finland’s English Online Magazine, Peeking Cat Poetry Magazine, Piker Press, Praxis Magazine Online, Sentinel Literary Quarterly, Spontaneity, The New York Review, and Vigil Pub Mag. She has been published in various anthologies, numerous times in print in South Africa, and online in zines based in Australia, Canada, Finland, India, Ireland, the UK, the United States, across Africa from Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Turkey and Zimbabwe.

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