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African Renaissance

The Anatomy of Loneliness

Abigail George

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You’re the star signs of a fortunate man in realms. I won’t fly into you again. You won’t come around like clockwork on a Sunday evening. I think I love you. You never say the same. So, I guess that’s my answer then. Wish me luck. Wish you luck.I’m a flame. I’m a flame in a pantomime. Look out for the sleeping satellite. Souls are like the rooms in a mansion. You’re

gone into the arms of another woman. Your skin is like velvet, but taste like regret. Guess this is goodbye. Or just a veil. I’ve romanced you. You’ve seduced me. I’m learning thatI’m a celestial. You’re free. I thought we’dbe together forever. You’re nearly a married man, my friend. Could have been me. But would we have been happy? I could never have given you the children you wanted.

I know you would have been satisfied with one. Sleeping with her, your muse, she’s fallen. Goodbye mysterious lover. Goodbye never boyfriend. Goodbye for never given you areal chance at loving me. Again, I’m dying inside. Whatever this is, I look within. I say goodbye with my head held high. Guess I won’t be invited to the wedding, or, the wedding reception. Too much history there. Here. In the dark. Goodbye, old friend. To your new life. We won’t be sharing anything together any more.I thought you always were half-ashamed of me. Didn’t know we could have spent eternity together. So much wasted potential, so much pain. I’ll always understand you. You me. I wish you and your future wife all the gladness and happiness in the world. It won’t be with me. So much wasted time. I let the years go by. You were loved. Take that with you. You were cherished friend once. Now you’re in love. Don’t return my phone calls. You’re free. I understand everything now. Look at me. My smile stays on while my heart is breaking. Nobody wants to love wretched me. Let go.I’m already gone. Faded into memory. Don’t speak. Don’t speak. You do that so well, so well.I will always love you. That is all I am taking with me. Tears and joy. And the despair of loneliness.

We want the same thing. Just not with each other. We desire other people to fill those hours.

You don’t love me in the way I need to be loved. You see, I want a man who deserves me.You want a woman who deserves you, and who fits your high profile. I’m not the one. I’m not the one.If I was, you’d be here now, not in hiding. She’ll be your wife. She’ll be your wife, and it cuts like a knife. I had feelings for you once, once. I’ve surrendered you to the universe. It gave you a wife. You never came around all that often anyway. You’re feeling good. I’m feeling the blues. Your wife is your hope now. Your hands. I’m no superwoman. Don’t even have a man to call my own. No one to love. Those days are long gone. No one. No one like the one I love. I’ve gone the distance. Followed my heart. Tell you something. Must be karma. They say, read the books your father read. I waste time. I waste time. When I do, I cry.I don’t need a shield for that. To display emotion. I’m more together now than I’ve ever been. I’m letting go. I’m saying good bye.You’re still beautiful to me. This morning the love of my life said that she didn’t care for me, to listen to me. Perhaps sisters are like that. I don’t love the men anymore. They’ve gone to the cemetery of the mind. I’m not ashamed of anything I’ve done. I don’t have any regrets. I never started a war. Conflict makes my blood boil. Once I was under his spell,but he never chose me. Did not love me. He wanted to hide me away from the world.  Your sad songs stopped my heart. They kill me now. I tried to fall in love, I failed, but I’m wiser now. I tried to teach him that I was hurt too, but he walked right on by, said goodbye.

I wanted to say, please don’t go, but he didn’t give me a chance. He just made me wise. Don’t dedicate anything to me, he said. I’m not that kind of person. Did Einstein have fangs like me, did he love like me? For sure science stopped his heart like it does me. You were always there.I am in space dementia, my collective soul feeling megalomaniac. I’ve been bruised black and blue.I have been wounded, eyes on fire with no cash.Time has all the answers, whether you want to decode the moon, the planets, the sun, or just want to love, fall in love, leave a lover. My lungs are made of iron, and flightless bird. I want it all.I want everything. Who will I love eventually? Who will love me for a lifetime, an eternity? I’m tired of waiting. It feels like I’ve been waiting forever. There are micro cuts on my fake heart. Say that you will love me anyway. He’s gone.And all I want to be is where the boys are, the guys. The older men with their ways, premium brand of cigarettes. Take me up there all the time. Take me.Take me to the museum. Take me to the muscle museum. Teach me to love him. Teach me to care for him. To bury my secrets deep. Encore. Nothing like love to heal the broken-hearted. Encore, after encore. I’m falling like a flightless bird. A flightless little bird, scared-shitless, yet still flying.

And I still believe in freedom, you know that.You’re king. Your land is king. Your ocean-sea isking. Together we go. I’m going to make a mistake. I’m going to get gone. No one loves me in this place. Waiting for someone to save me is a useless exercise. It kills me to say this that nobody loves me like I do. That I matter like nuclear energy to no one. I’m priceless. Love me for me. No one’s around. So, I walk alone. Always on my own.No more hurt now. Only triumph. No more trials. Step back wolf. Don’t embrace me. I’m a ghost in the wilderness. Ghosts don’t change no one. Just an illusion shaped like a human being though. Your love sure looks good to me. I’ve seen better days. River of dark nights upon me again. Save me, why don’t you save me my love, love, and old friend; you’re all loved up now with kids on the way. I need you, but nobody needs me. I’m dead to the world.It came from Japan. It came from Hiroshima’s lonely. You cut her. He cut her. You cut her hair.She sleeps alone. This rain that is falling is a miracle. No one wants that person’s reflection in the mirror. No one wants to love her, to love me.Nobody misses her. Even her words are lonely.She remembers all of their wounds, her wounds,his wounds. She’s torn the miracle now. Turned paradise into hell. But she’s an athlete. So, endures.

Come back again and say you love me, Orpheus. You smile back at me. We dance. I’m in your arms again. You’re my angel. I’ve found an angel. I prayed, ate bowls of fire, was lit from the inside like two suns. The fire was you. The fire was your love. Spring came into my life. I am transformed. I am your metamorphosis. You are my love, the love of my love. I am yours everlasting, my Rilke. I am yours, yours, yours forevermore.

I am your sonnet clasping an ever-fixed star. No indelible mark left on this earthy plane of the ache of heartbreak. We’ve overcome it all for winter is gone now. That season forsaken. After winter comes the spring. You’re all tenderness. Call me love or beloved. You speak with your reading hands. Signs are everywhere. Your hope for commitment to the laws of love. All its rituals. Companionship. Respect. Admiration. The owl flits through the air. Content with their lot in life.  They are loved. I am adored. They are praised. I am worshipped. There’s no more room for glimmers of loss and emptiness. No more time for anguish in my life. This is the love of the ancients. Time spent drinking tea has become our ritual now. Our paradise. I smile. Old souls growing old together. Joy. Delivered from growing old alone. The sea speaks only of the beloved to me now.  Everything can be cured now. Wars especially. Perhaps the recession. Even global warming. Other than that, there are no obstacles in our way. Those days of waiting for someone is gone. There’s nothing that I regret. For now, all we have is each other. That is enough. You bring me flowers. The world of love brings me flowers. Winners. Tomorrow we will be the winners. I lift up my head. You’re staring at your newspaper. I make the breakfast. You make the tea while listening to the radio. I make a fuss. You’re careful not to shout when I do. You forgive. You forgive me. That’s never happened before. When I’m sad, you read to me. You take my hand and order me to dance. Tell me that you love me, only me. I dreamed a dream. You exist because of that dream. Our love, love exists because of that dream. There’s no ransom. No thunder in this house because of you. Only you. Joy, joy. There’s only sunshine, even when it rains. Love is an echo from my distant past, it has bewitched the deep of my soul. I’m living in a cage. It is swell, and ancient, and beautiful there, except that I’m longing to see my love. Your name is horizontal, your love is like a disease, and all I want is pleasure.

This is the end of tenderness and inspiration, this is the end of lust and silence is translated into the accompaniment of joy, and these books are singing to me joyfully. In the bedroom it is night and day, and I think of one of father’ friends that I may be secretly in love with. How strong and handsome he is, how he buried a son. How I did not bury my dead great-uncle who hung himself from the rafters in an outside toilet. This is what the world is coming to. There’s tenderness in the break of day, the breaking of the waves, the sure vibrations in them, the vigour of the sun. And all I can think of is death, and death by suicide, and how there are no photographs of my paternal grandfather’s siblings. Dennis was a ruffian., and died a ruffian’s death. The daughters were blonde, and now they are dead too. The root of the flame is found in space, and environment, and cause, and the issue of blood. I know everything there is to know about the issue of blood. I carry endometriosis inside of me, in much the same way I carry infertility. Lenny come back. Dennis come back. Winifred and Bea, let down your ringlets. I want to go to Jamestown. I want to go to Saint Helena. I want to find myself there amongst Napoleon’s flora, and fauna. And for the first time in my life I feel that I matter. Company does not anchor me; it is strangers that anchor me. I am fading, fading, fading away. How strange to see this kind of decay in someone as young as me. 40-years young. This is the end of me, the end of me writing like this, writing poetry like this. And the more I think of my great-uncle’s suicide, the more I think about death. He’s a chameleon, he’s an aroma, he’s a man with some incident of childhood trauma in his life. And I am a woman with some incident of childhood trauma in my own blind life. Perhaps in another life my typhoon, I will be a paperback writer, or novelist.

I find something to identify with every type of creative there is, even the typhoon spilling words into the air. I’m going into chronic-overachiever mode again, a lesson in humility to build my confidence, nothing (but we lost it) tragic there, all I want to do is make a name for myself, you’re beautiful, you’re perfect, you’re the rain pouring (but we lost it) down, washing my sins away, you’re my church, dogma, religion, controversy, and you’re all I want. All I see, (but we lost it) want is that holy feeling when I’m around you, but all we have is days, not weeks, not years, and you don’t (but we lost it) want to come back here. I’m a fan trucking, my love, my love, you’re interwoven into my gene pool, my bloodline, (but we lost it) you’re here, but you’re already gone, and you haven’t said those magic words, you haven’t said that you love (but we lost it) me, Cleopatra, you don’t need me like I need you. You want Prague, and I want Rainer Maria Rilke. You want (but we lost it) to speak Czech, and I want Milan Kundera’s inspiration, and creativity, and the priorities that informed his writing. (but we lost it) I’m once in a house on fire, in a hospital ward, in high care. I want it all from Amherst to Washington, don’t leave (but we lost it) but you’ve never listened to me a day in your life, so you won’t start now. I’m a work in progress, not so much a (but we lost it) great success like you with your life planned out, instead my depression has mapped out my entire life, its detailed (but we lost it) text uncompromising and you protect me most days, but other days I’m out there on my own, fighting alone, the boat (but we lost it) is going down, I’m swimming for my life now, reading Salinger as if it was about us, blood sisters, reading Hemingway on driving ambulances during the war, (but we lost it) the billions of peaks and troughs of the waves, I love you more than life itself, break, break, break, you watch me break. (but we lost it). I’m reading Martin Amis, I’m reading Kingsley Amis, I’m reading your mind, kismet, palmistry, astrology in the stars. (you’re a stranger) Don’t leave me here, on my own, but you want to be free. You want to love, distance, you want to hurt but without me.

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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African Renaissance

Twelve Monkeys

Abigail George

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I’ve made mistakes. More than a few. I haven’t always apologised for my behaviour, for the mistakes I made, the wrong journey I took, the path less travelled. I am broken inside. I sometimes feel numb and dead inside when I exercise. Especially when I exercise. When I’m stressed out, I exercise a lot. I watch films. I read poetry. I write poetry. But these days it just feels as if I can’t carry out the simplest of tasks. I feel that nobody really loves me for me. I think of Elvis, I think of Sinatra, I think of Sammy Davis Junior. I think of their friendship. The bonds between them. They were brothers. They had each other’s backs. They looked out for one another. They loved each other. I do not know what love is. Growing up my mother loved herself. Narcissist I think is the correct term. Always in heels and a G-string. Sexed up.My father was an absent father by all accounts. But, to all intents and purposes her gave me a happy life, a happy childhood. So, I am taking the memories wherever I go. Wherever, whenever, and I mean the happiest memories I’ve had, I still have, are the moments I spent with my father. Eating ice cream, going to the beach, visiting the clinical psychologist, buying the month’s groceries, playing under his desk at work. My father’s friends were my friends. The people that knew my father, knew me from a young age. Precocious and cute, always wanting to make people with sad eyes laugh, and if I couldn’t get them to laugh, I would get them to smile at least. When I was born before the eighties,George Botha passed away that year, from an apparent suicide. Biko slipped on a bar of soap. Then there’s Dulcie.

Dulcie September (I wonder what her children would have been like, her husband, would she have settled in London, married a man who had green, or blue eyes. Rick Turner was assassinated by a man with a gun (they haven’t found him yet), Kevin Carter was killed by a stray bullet as he was taking pictures of the unrest in the townships during the brutal heights of the heyday of apartheid. Political activists of colour were being arrested at every turn. Turn the corner, walk in the opposite direction someone, someone would be following you. The Americans I think termed that phrase Big Brother is watching you, or else it could have been anyone really. I’m young, but I have an old soul. Yes, I read poetry. Yes, I read books too. Basically, anything I can get my hands on. I love getting my hands dirty in the kitchen. The cake flour, the dough I eat off my fingers, dust the doughnuts with icing sugar, or cocoa, keeping busy, busy, busy, trying not to think, trying not to think of anyone, or anything. It is a long, long way to Rapunzel, Rimbaud, Verlaine, Proust, Nabokov, Salinger, Rilke, Akhmatova, and Coco Chanel. It is an even longer distance to Billy Graham, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Walter Sisulu, Oliver Tambo, Neville Alexander, Fikile Bam, Patrice Motsepe, ex-president Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, ex-president Thabo Mbeki, ex-president Jacob Zuma, and president-elect Cyril Ramaphosa. Then I think of the land of the free, and the home of the brave, and the American presidents (the leaders of the free world), George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, JFK, Thomas Jefferson, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump.

Nobody knows anything really about their childhood. Rapunzel, like all fairy tales, like the Native Americans, and the Eastern Cape poets Ayanda Billie, Robert Berold, Brian Walter, Mzi Mahola, the late Arthur Nortje, the late Dennis Brutus, Mxolisi Nyezwa, they are all frozen in the snow of my memory. I want people to love me. Just like my dad. People love daddy. People loved daddy. But inside I am sad. I am not even loved in my own home. My mother hates me. How to get over the mental cruelty, her un-loveliness to me over the years, her utter humiliation of me when she saw how close me and dad were getting. She was in the house, put on a disappearing act whenever I appeared. I tell myself that nobody loves me. That I’m a rubbish-throw-away-type of person. Nobody should associate themselves with me. I have no self-esteem, then low self-esteem. Sleep around. No, not really. I just give expert hand jobs, and I never kiss. Never. Too intimate, it makes me feel vulnerable, and when you kiss someone there are just so many levels to it, you know. The first kiss. Well, you always remember that. You always remember the person who first kissed your lips. And after that, after that you open your warm mouth (I think of everything as an experiment, an adventure, an exploration of sorts). They have all gone out into the world now. The wives have done what is impossible for me. Given the boys children. That, that, that right there is too much for me to take, to handle, although I know I will survive. Believe me, I survive without cocaine and alcoholism, without sexuality and the sexual transaction (as Jean Rhys said in After Leaving Mr Mackenzie).

I endure with the best of them. I love like the greats. The great singer and songwriters (the late Karen Carpenter), musicians (Lenny Kravitz, Fiona Apple). I too have been careless with the hearts of delicate people. Some have moved on with their lives, and have forgotten all about me. I pretend to wake up in the mornings to the legends that the boys have become. They are men who rule empires now. They have forgotten all about me, forsaken me for money, prosperity, prestige, status (I’m mixing up my similes here). I miss them. I miss them like crazy. I wish I was back there, not here. Each and every day in Johannesburg was either a summer-ish day, or winter. I wish I was in love again, but I’m not. I’m a wreck. Still the same wreck I was 20 years ago. I’m growing older. I’m in my forties now. What a terrible age. The onset of menopause, flashbacks to a time and place when you were happier, when you could afford to make mistakes, behave foolishly, and love, love, love, and dance the night away with multiple partners on your arms, but I didn’t know about the world. Didn’t know anything about the world. So, mothers, be good to your daughters. They will learn to love like you do. I don’t know anything about that. I don’t know anything about love. I can smoke, I can drink when I hang out with the guys. I love men. Women ignore me. Women talk down to me. Women humiliate me in front of their children, mother-in-law, and especially, especially their boyfriends, their husbands, life partners. You know that kind of girl. You know that kind of woman. She’s beautiful, exceptional-looking.

She dresses down, she dresses up. I’m that kind of woman now. Can someone hear my plea? Anyone, anyone? Anyone out there? All I ever wanted was for my mother to tell me how much she loved me, how proud she was of me, and she didn’t. Still doesn’t to this day. And I hate violence of any kind, even in films. I still believe in what Walt Disney proclaimed. It is my mantra still to this day. I believe in family values. I guess it is the principle behind it. Norms and values. Growing up with norms and values. A kind of belief system, even though I did go to Sunday School, and memorise Bible verses, and was indoctrinated into religion by the Union Congregational Church,(I’m not religious anymore, although I still pray, still meditate, believe in reconciliation, and as such there is evil in the world, but there is also the greater good). Anyway, I am much more of a spiritual person now, from an early age I believed in angels. Truth for some, but not truth for all. I believe in the qualities of a good Christian, Brahmin, Yogi, Hindu, Muslim, Lutheran, Baptist, Methodist, and Catholic. All religions hold truth at the cornerstones of their foundation. So, instead of making war, think instead (this is for all the world leaders, mothers, fathers, sons, and daughters out there), make peace (keep the peace in the house, reconcile your differences, sit at the table and break bread, talk about your day, don’t isolate yourself from either your family, or your community). Be kind. You can kill with kindness you know. Today that person could be your enemy, tomorrow (as the ancients, prophets, saints, angels say) that same enemy could be your friend.

Money and wealth won’t make you beautiful. Inner beauty, understanding and understanding devotion to others less fortunate than yourself, the marginalised, downtrodden, those living in poverty-stricken areas in dire straits give them your peace too, and something to eat. The game of life is made up of winners and losers. The loser always forgets about the lesson that they have learned. The winner takes it all. Always remember it is how you play the game. Life is precious. People are precious too. We are only human at the end of the day. Once, they said that someday technology will surpass humanity. Code breakers, the women and men who serve countries around the world, and who are willing to sacrifice their lives for millions of people). I think also of scientists like Sir Isaac Newton, Niels Bohr, Max Planck, Pavlov, Albert Einstein, Marie Curie (twice-winner) of the Nobel Prize. I think of researchers dealing with computers, information communication technology, indigenous knowledge systems, the great digital divide between the haves and the have nots (first world countries and third world countries). I think of intellectuals like Pliny the Elder, Aristotle, Hippocrates, Homer, and Plato. Isn’t every intellectual an authority on philosophy, education, subjects as diverse and varied (Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo), as the holistic vision of an educationalist, community leader, humanist, activist, volunteer, just as much as a person can be plumber, he can also be a storyteller (everybody has a story to tell), and a poet. His name can be Yusuf Agherdien, Ambrose Cato George, and Shaheed Hendricks.

(The writers of the book South End: As We Knew It, although District Six in Cape Town is more well-known when it comes to the promulgation of the Group Areas Act). They can even be the curator, and a writer-visionary-maverick of the world-famous museum, the South End Museum, that has its roots in Saint Helena. An island in the middle of the ocean, that could only in the past be reached by a Royal Mail Ship that sailed from Cape Town to Saint Helena. Are we still slaves, our minds enslaved by oppression and racism, prejudice and gangsterism, the abuse of alcohol and mental cruelty? It has become a global phenomenon. It has become a buzzword. In my mind, we are all then victims of circumstance, of trauma, of incidents that happened in our childhood. And yes, we fall prey to evil deeds, and evil thoughts, we sin, and sometimes we pray and ask for forgiveness, and sometimes we don’t. We don’t learn the lesson; we would rather abscond. Go our own way. For some of us, this is all we know. Running away from loss and grief, denial and instigation, and when we do that we are motivated by our own fear, anxiety, even insanity (which means two things, break from reality, or non-reality).When you’re in high school all you want to do is hang with the popular crowd, go out with the most popular boy in school, obtain high marks, achieve on the sports field and inside the classroom. I was an obsessive-compulsive achiever, and the only people I wanted to impress were the women in my family. The women make babies, and stay at home, cook and clean, raise their family, but in my world the husband was always marrying the mistress.

We know the affect that climate change has had on the seasons, harvests, running water, rain, sanitation, and it spells disaster in all areas. Floods, tornadoes, tsunamis, storms, drought which affects our farmers, and particular our agriculture all over the world. I digress. I come back to those two words again. Global phenomenon. We are reaching a climatic stage of events in world history. Ask yourself these questions, think about them, ponder them as you would any projectthat is highly creative, and imaginative, that needs you to focus, and concentrate. Put all your energies into it, as you would your children’s lives, and your husband’s or wife’s welfare. What is your legacy, will it be hidden from view, or be there for all to see? What is your calling, your purpose in life, what are you extremely passionate about (I must have asked myself these questions thousands of times, and so, no, I’m not exaggerating)? What are your empirical dreams, lofty goals, pre-imminent plans? Are you concerned about the spiritual welfare of others, as I am?

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African Renaissance

Tongue of grief

Abigail George

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Sleep. I don’t sleep anymore at night. I don’t sleep very well, or, not at all. You only see what you want to see. You only see the sum-aura of me. You have no proof of who I have loved. No one knows who I really am. And I want to be yours, but I can’t. And I want to have a child, before I am too old to have a child. But life for me. It seems as if I have already travelled halfway. And I have suffered. I think that I have suffered too much already. I have buried the renal unit far underground where you find the dead of the fairground. Where sea meets the floor of the ocean. Where river meets dust. And enemies meet up with ash heap. The waking inside the iceberg doesn’t come naturally. There are deadlines even here amongst the elements amongst poor family life, dysfunctional life stick figures. There is project management here by children. I know, because I used to be one of those children. I ask myself now, am I being value-based by this, my tiny prejudices, my dreams, the visions that I have of the moth environment that I live in, the buzzing world around me, the holistic visions that I have of my future self. I’m an actor who doesn’t care what you think of me. I live on stimulus and impulse alone. Those are the laws that I live by. I should have had those children. Shouldn’t have listened to my father. Should have payed more attention to my mother when I had the chance. Maybe my life wouldn’t be such a fine line of a mess now. Staying at home with elderly parents. Struggling to carry on with my life which is a grownup life now. My life is just an illusion now. Nobody listens to this ghost capturing the castle.

Memories they come and they go. Angels walk by me. Overwhelmed as you are by grief, there is gravity, there is, in remembering the personality-type of the people that you loved, the person you thought that you were going to spend a lifetime with, their untimely and tragic loss. When you are young you think that there is only one person cut out there for you. For a while, grief grew in everything. I could see its progress everywhere. In slices of melon at the breakfast or lunch table, flowers, in Updike’s Rabbit, in ingredients and priorities it was a mooring, a kind of lifeline, a cold-hearted and aloof buoy, it was, grief was for the longest time. Grief came in waves, in waves, in waves. The rain would make me cry, the smell of winter, my childhood, my sister who was now living and making a life for herself in Europe, and then one day I woke up and discovered that grief was a stem now. It was growing, growing inside of me. A heart filled with grief can and will burst. This is how my heart behaved in those months after a distant friend of the family, Bunny Flowers, passed away suddenly. His death had come as a shock to everyone. Poetry found me. Prose found me then in those hours. In his bare defeating and breaking silence out on the sea. Grief will break even the calmest hearts. It will make you think that you are missing out on something. It will. Everything will remind you in the early days in retrospect and in days to come about the one who left you behind. I am slowly starting to figure that out. You will shout at the walls, I certainly did.

You will through no fault of your own, but you will come to blame God, blame the hospital staff who came to the people you loved and lost who came too late to the assistance of your loved one, at the unfairness of it all. Your teeth will have grief, sink its talons into it like watching the steam from a coffee mug. Seasons will change from the present to the past and my consciousness wanders. I act and pretend Bunny is on holiday. It was my defence mechanism as a child. It is still as an adult. He’ll be coming back now any day. Clouds will part. Still I tell myself because the grief is too much for me to handle, it overtakes me on certain days to the extent that I can only fill the hours and the silences with writing. Writing about life, the celebration of life and writing about death. You go on. You must. You must remember them as they were, I was told this once, I think my mother told me this. I make lions out of them. They turn into guardian angels and I make lions out of them. I find they are as much present as they ever were. I take comfort in that afterthought that populates. Grief can make you bitter. It can make you regret what you said, what you didn’t say in the moment, what you wanted to say, desired to say to the object of your affection. It can make you angry at the world and for no apparent reason you snap at a stranger, or a child, or a loved one still very much in the world. Money, I realised will never bring them back. It is important, and somehow some people make it the root of all good, all evil, all material possessions as if they could take with them if they left this world. I am in a boat and my heart is breaking. My calm heart is breaking. I realised early on in life after I lost my paternal grandfather, I was of course much too young, much too young, well I realised that grief has an outspoken tongue and point of view when it comes to the living. Those left behind in the now less than crowded house.

What to do when grief overtakes you, when you’re immersed in that space it is beyond overwhelming. If I could turn back the clock, I would have kept you safe every minute. I remember your voice, Bunny, I didn’t think that I would, but I do.

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African Renaissance

Childhood and Magda

Abigail George

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on

I haven’t got time for the pain. When I’m through with you, I will still hope.There’s an ocean meeting invincible ocean pouring into eyes,you are far away in another city now a devil in disguisewith sadness comes a mania of relief (it is just a part of me). There is a part of me that is an experiment. Just a playing field. I was born that way. To feel my way in this world with trepidation. To a ghost feeling her way on land. You’ve left, you’re gone, and you’re a ghost, something wickedly despicable but I understand you so much more now. The last time I spoke to my sister was a Sunday and I know that soon the months will turn into years between us.You,beauty personified with the sameness of Ezra Pound. I’ve abandoned you; you’re gone.

You’ve made history young standing with your ticket and your visa in hand at the boarding gate work for tomorrow. There’s something purified in the hoping for something sweet in the novelty of youth. So, the aftermath will come one by one. We’ll forgive each other like

the appearances of the moon. We’ll exchange gifts and we’ll remember the commodities of childhood. I’ll close that (I won’t pursue him). I hate him so much now I could spit blood. It came from childhood continued. The damage is done (what are the meanings of trauma and casualty) only this remains. When I’m through with you strangely I will still hope. I am standing in front of you asking for forgiveness. You’ve arrived on a scholarship. Left all the lions and elephants behind. Parents that you’re sick to death of the sight of, a sister who is mentally ill and who has all the sinister potential of making it anyway and a brother who doesn’t believe that smoking is for grownups. You’ve detached yourself from your childhood, grown as cool as an iceberg. Darling, you’ve made it as far as America. How far is up? To the blank slate face of the moon, the fat orange sun that shimmers and glitters in heat waves and so you stuff yourself with Chinese food and decide this is the life; to live like the rich do as you. Take their coats and hang them up with a number at an elite country club and do everything American as you can possibly do before you die. So, you forget about us. Four stone gods. Buddha-like in your consciousness, all owners of lonely hearts in a wilderness of biochemistry and decay. Once I nestled your head in my lap and breathed in the scent of your hair – of powder, scent, perfume, skin against skin, not yet old, wrinkly like fingers like prunes from a bath, smelling old; no longer an extraordinary machine. Now you can hardly bare me to touch you. I see less and less of you; you don’t ask to be taken care of; there are no longer whispers in the dark as we camp out in front of the television. There is only your magical thinking. Your purity, your humanity, your alchemy. You’re a mother, a wife waiting in the wings. Already posed in your natural habitat. Your dewy eyes are gems, once diamonds in the rough. Once you wore a crown of thorns in childhood. In those rough, tidal, shadow-boxing teenage years when bad, bad things happened to show up in your life. A yellow shout of melancholy with no bounce and of little hope and so your innocence was snuffed out and planted into a dead nothingness. And yet it still left you with the mind of an angel. Cradled you like a new-born, Magus. I think of anticipatory nostalgia. I say this with love. Caught in a trap. Once immobile. Then striding across playing fields cradled by lullabies and spent by beguiling motives. Journeys and a soul awash by winters and the glow, the matrimonial hush of seasons and so will I, goddess-like make you a daydream of a monster. I would never belong

I am not like that. Built perfectly in your world. I am poison. Not so good at navigating vertigo through sweet nothings, and flash love. I don’t cry anymore when my heart takes a dive. I wait to hear you say what you want. Your voice a soft blot. Swapping enduring stories that migrate anxiously from my mind to yours. Like a lilting, urgent freedom song. A songbird received with warmth and sincerity. I like those words memoir, smoked. Feeling my Achilles heel, my sobriety. An ache where my heart should be. You have been in my dreams all my lifemeltedmy heart made of stonewith a soul all patched up like skin. My comprehension on trial, my cowardice. This is me saying goodbye.

What does love mean to me then?Is it the winter rain here again, the machinery of haiku?

Leaves softly whispering on the ground. Words, words and more words. In imagination a purified Dadaist reality. Restored in a manner with alchemy and humanity. You are soul you know and that’s enough for me. The book on us is finished. The diaries burnt. I’ve got my head under a primitive sky. The sun’s impoverished. Walt Whitman’s blades of grass all lost on me. You’re as remote to me as an American utopia. The cogs and wheels are spinning. But what does that mean? There’s nothing sublime to it if you’re not here to hold me. Did cancer or illness that interrupted your life?Why did you not marry,or, find the right man?Why don’t you have children?Why aren’t you normal?All I can see is destruction mingled with burnt diaries. Where are the seeds yourMother originally sowed?Who anchored the roots of grief?And, introduced the weight of the world’s weariness. Your mother drinks lilac wine

Purple blooms upend themselves in the glass much more than a stain. But you don’t like that kind of distraction that stills nerves. The grownup kind of love. The kind of pain children bring with them into the world. The starry anticipation of tiredness. As people make closer contact with you, they become illusions. Fiercely torment you vulnerable-thinker.

You can never take off that hat. The psychological framework. The quality of your conversation. Is it heroic, stoic, and maladroit?It needs a wiser understanding. Your laughter needs no shelter. You walk the sky in a swimming pool. Conquer lap after lap after lap. At the end of the day you smell of rain. Your mouth keeps on after opinion. It keeps changing perspective. Are you really a poet (or is that a guise)?Where is your mask for the ball?You need food, sleep and a feast. You’re hungry for it all. You are hungry for everything. A network of business cards and data. Where is young Hemingway’s Diary?Where are the seeds Buddha planted?Where are the seeds Plath and Sexton planted?Your speech is rapid (just let it go to the palace and tribe of boredom). Like air in the bloodstream of an apricot.

Finding myself in the tender sea. (There’s no ignorance and confusion here). I listen to its brilliant blues murmur so varied. Tasting the salt in the eternal profound light.And when I leave that spirited energy there’s the night wind. There’s the man on the moon. There’s the television. There are giants, monsters, and talking heads. But there’s also a sense of quietness of peace in this paradise. No glut of shaking flight, fancy, fight that I’m anchored or terrified by. The newness of it all – because I am known in all of these territories. These regions, these districts. Storms will come but I will not be done in by their edges that tides simply fall off of and come undone by. The problem of pain is like the meaning of a river. It will pass. Summer will soon be here in this paradise. My brother is doing what he did when he was a boy. He used to steal my books, my Milan Kundera. That philosopher who was a writer. A philosopher who wrote books. And now he is turning the tables on us. Being a philosopher who is becoming a writer who writes and edits books. Pictures can tell you a thousand stories. The weather forecast or the change in climate. Currents that are trending in this paradise. I am a metallic stream-of-consciousness worshiper. Look how I’ve made it into an art. I’ve discovered it’s no longer strange to me. I’m channelling it and all its rituals. There’s a poignant sadness in its image. Aching dream of what could have been. And madness bordering on the useless storm of dark and suburban mania. Look at how birds will remind you of song. When you played truant and your parent’s inertia. And of water, the weight of it in this paradise.

Sinners never disappoint. And I do not envy them. Their crowning glory, their shape. Their smell lacks innocence, their unemployment. The lack of skills to put bread on the table to feed hungry mouths. I do not envy their presence. Where drunkards kiss the ligaments of the cold earth of the pavement. Mouth meeting another. The beer’s mouth both just imagining things. A better life for all, world peace. Once there was the unbearable lightness of youth. Chips and steak are on the menu. I can also talk of love, many things.Now young guys lie in the street. Face down like carrion. We’re young still and there’s an unbearable lightness that comes with it; poverty, unemployment. A silence so pure while a mouth defies gravity and neutral ground. Lectures on how the revolution must hurry up after speech after speech! It is not that this generation is speechless. Kevin Carter has been dead a long time. Photographers can drift. They drift like driftwood. Ribs, beer and dancing (darts for the men) are on the menu. I can also talk of the love of many finer things. Damn married fever but not as committed. Soon Magda will be forgotten like a wallflower. It’s not in my power to change that. Conjure it up. Only an echo followed her death. It played itself out at the graveside and inside the church. The music. The outside of me is built like a wallflower. Winter bright white light there’s an echo coming from somewhere. Shoes on the floor cold night a starry sky. Those shoes belong to me and I’ll lace them up in the morning. The echoes vibrate under the soles of my feet. Instead of going to bars and clubbing, she poured herself into reading her books. She cooked up a storm furiously. Imagining it was for two. Funny girl. Magda that shiny fractured thing.

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