Dizzying and introspective. My limbs soon became antiques with their own mood.

There are frozen tigers behind the red brick walls wearing a flock of suits. Soon they will fly away for winter will be upon us. You are frozen mother. I am frozen and what a pair we make. Take me to the sea. It will do me the world of good as if I have never seen anything like it before. It is as if I have never loved anything quite like it in my life before. I know of it. I know all of it. The weight of water is different from warm bathwater. It knows me well. I reach out to its swell country. It feels as if my hands do not belong to me anymore.

The psychoanalyst said. To be at peace with yourself is to write. Write anything but just write. Write words. It does not have to make sense at first it is just important that you write what you feel and write down what you think. How can anything that is graceful and elegant floating body also have insane quality to it make any sense? You will find yourself there. On that page, that is where you will find yourself. There is a taproot even in your vein. The psychiatrist said. You can have that family. You can have that husband and those children with the angel shine on their faces. Why do you not study further? Give it a go self-portrait girl. I glide into rooms of my childhood home on madness as if I planned for this to happen. A bipolar life. I fall. I fall. I fall into the dawn’s light.

In childhood, I was loved. I took this love for granted and thought I was always going to be loved. I thought that the perfectionist in me would always be loved and that would be enough for me but then I went out into the world and discovered that women were many things besides the obvious. Besides being manic-depressive. In childhood, my mother was the sun and when it set on me Kafkaesque, I thought that love set on me too. There came a pilgrimage after that. The survival kit of living with mental illness lit up inside of me. I would imagine Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton eating bread and cake. Their children eating pink watermelon. The Easter bunny in their eyes. Manic-depression can take you imagination. Somehow, your body will be damaged. Caught on dynamic hooks that will programme you but still you must do the impossible. You must love yourself.

You must minister love to yourself. If no one else can in those moments when the illness is at its most predominant you must. Write what you see. Write everywhere you go. It will soon become second nature your studies of human behaviour. Your observations. Respond to your mother with love. Respond to her with kindness even if it is the most difficult thing in the world. I think that every writer in their own way leaves their mark on this planet in what they write about and it usually is confessional even though that is not what they would call it. I do not feel quite as if I have arrived yet. It feels as if I am always saying goodbye. I am not invited to weddings (thank goodness). I do not go to funerals (one does not need to be invited to funerals). Goodbye. Goodbye. Goodbye. The dark is like a veil. It is as if we desire the same thing. To go forward. To make progress. The dark veil appears at the door covering its host’s face. I choose my grandmother as the host. She told me not to waste the mind that God gave me.

In a concrete city, parents who moved furniture in the rooms of my childhood home. I wrote with his hollow marshmallow Easter egg next to me. All I could see was Easter light. The romantic tyke with his little shark teeth marks in the orange marshmallow and white marshmallow. I can still imagine the hollow Easter egg in his hands warm from his touch. His hands brown, sticky and warm. His sweet breath in my face spoke to me in plurals of winter. How hard it was to let him go. To return him to his people. The house is past. You speak to me in plurals. You speak to me in plurals of winter. If they only knew. The elixir’s will. That I was a self-imposed exile, Queen Fear in a sea of monkeys locked in the boneyard.

There are lifelines in stages. A concrete garden. Chronic city. Life flying solo. The intimacy of death. The land of somersaults. I am no longer in any one of those stages. Topography. I do not entertain kind of man. Do not wish for any kind of explosions in the night sky. Do not wish for echoes or any kind of fireworks. Women who are writers have to do readings. The intellectuals make love pressed against a man. Women who are writers have to go to book launches. Make love pressed against a man. I do not know how to do any of those things anymore. I do not know how to be brave. I will never be a bride holding the first draft of a manuscript. I will never be a Cinderella hiding her poetry away when her children come looking for her. A Cinderella believes in ephemera. Not in filmmaking.

Women become mothers. They say please touch me here. When an intellectual kind of woman makes love, they do not necessarily become mothers. Women make love in order to have sons and daughters. They make love in order to become mothers. It does not mean that they become better people. Kinder, nursemaids and that the ashtray, the single malt whisky disappears. She sees a sea’s in the roaring fireplace. Destroys correspondence. Letters from her mother, her diaries. Cinderella gets her prince in the end. I will never be the wife making hungry introductions. Making lists. Making grocery lists. Doing the laundry. Re-reading Lolita. Women need a cave, an escape. Like any ghost, kind of woman women need an exit route.

Is the sea not beautiful this time of year? It says things like, ‘do not be cautious.’ This was Ingrid Jonker’s sea. I inherited it the archipelago. The mass of the architecture. Wrapped the weight of the muse of water around my legs. A slush pile, a scapegoat. The news of it has reached my parents by now. My parents who are married but separated. I could have written a letter but I did not. Not that it did not cross my mind. My heart was starved. Words was all that I had left. It was a pale September. I left the bed dishevelled. My tousled unkempt hair. An otherworldly atom feed welcomed me inside the sea. The sea poured itself into me, my wet hair. How my lungs ached for air. Gulls screeched. Potbellies full. Sun gold dust. Sand gold dust. Then I was lying down in darkness. Famished in a temple.

Abigail George

Abigail George is a feminist, poet and short story writer. She is the recipient of two South African National Arts Council Writing Grants, one from the Centre for the Book and the Eastern Cape Provincial Arts and Culture Council. She was born and raised in the coastal city of Port Elizabeth, the Eastern Cape of South Africa, educated there and in Swaziland and Johannesburg. She has written a novella, books of poetry, and collections of short stories. She is busy with her brother putting the final additions to a biography on her father’s life. Her work has recently been anthologised in the Sol Plaatje EU Poetry Anthology IV. Her work was nominated for the Pushcart Prize. She briefly studied film.

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