At the beach
by Abigail George
Bright lights in the city.
You had been made of iron.
Your memoir is made of whirlpools.
As vital as a tombstone.
I can thrive in this cancer ward.
Filled with the song of mannequins.
In the dark, I turn black.
Sea of trees I cannot fathom you.
Swimming pool once a myth.
Upside down and wishful.
I can see Jonah’s Whale from here.
Stars in the fabric of moonlight.
Everything smells of spirit.
Hibiscus and insects
Now I meet with disaster.
I come with bereavement.
The ways of water run deep.
Salt and light. Before disability struck
Do you remember?
The epic heights you reached.
The cigarettes you smoked
In high school. Boys made out of paper.
Men made out of gin.
You were unsuitable for both.
You stopped drinking milk.
You stopped eating altogether.
Anorexia they called it.
The elephant in the room.
You went to the moon
In addition, back in dreams.
You held the autumn chill
In your hands. Its journal.
There were the walks you took
Around the church. Up to the
Garage where you bought peanuts
And raisins with your father.
The cashier would not smile
As he bagged your purchases.
Your dad’s granadilla hands
He is in the autumn of the years.
It is that festive time of year again.
When you eat, drink, and be merry.
I will not be doing that this year.
I am fragile. A mountainous
Version of tenderness. I melt in the
Presence of children. No good
For anyone. Stay away from me.
I am a cat person. I collect strays
Like others collect coins or stamps.
I believe in God, love and crashing
Into things. I spend too much
Time inside my own head.
I am tired of instructing my own work.
I write about the song in the wind.
It becomes my own song.
The song of loneliness. Of Rilke,
Of Nabokov, of Akhmatova,
Of Ernest Hemingway driving
Ambulances during the war.
I write about the seasons
As if I were a poet. The leaves that
Leave fingerprints behind them.
A pint of milk. A jar of honey.
I write about angels and goddesses.
I am impatient and angry
At the human condition and I read
To find myself because this is
This is what the river whispers to me.
Sometimes the road inside too.
Abigail George is the author of ‘Africa Where Art Thou’ (2011), ‘Feeding the Beasts’ (2012), ‘All About My Mother’ (2012), ‘Winter in Johannesburg’ (2013), ‘Brother Wolf and Sister Wren’ (2015), and the forthcoming ‘Sleeping Under Kitchen Tables in the Northern Areas’ (2016). Her poetry has been widely published from Nigeria to Finland, and New Delhi, India to Istanbul, Turkey. Her fiction was nominated for the Pushcart Prize. She briefly studied film and television production at the Newtown Film and Television School opposite the Market Theater in Johannesburg. She is the recipient of writing grants from the National Arts Council (Johannesburg), the Centre for the Book (Cape Town), and ECPACC (Eastern Cape Provincial Arts and Culture Council) (East London). She writes for Modern Diplomacy, blogs with Goodreads, and contributed to a symposium for a year on Ovi Magazine: Finland’s English Online Magazine.