Dialogue Between The Formal Structure Of Trauma And The Poetess

I am waiting for someone to tell me that they see my value. Dorianne Laux, the American poet was a sanitorium cook, a gas station manager and a cook. Did she only find her worth when she turned poet? She was born in Augusta, Maine. Nobody knows what I have carried gently and otherwise I want to tell her. I am a witness. Particular because of my upbringing. There are days when I ask my reflection in the bathroom mirror when are you going to start to live? Birds have layers to them like an onion. Sound, illumination, contesting the innovation of the air with their wings apparent they go forth. Onwards.

Dorianne Laux perhaps said that all that poetry is is preparation for death but does pain end is my question. With your painted third eye sister-guru can you see my sorrows and feel my tears in the long distances between us? I’ve had difficult relationships with my siblings. I’ve struggled to find myself within intimacy, within relationships with the opposite sex and there are days when everything around me seems to be in sync. The world, the betterment of society, positive outcomes, and in those moments I tell myself that the world is an efficient place. We don’t have to fight for anything. We have more than enough resources.

I think of the binary star and the silence of the river. The swan’s honesty, beauty and truth, the island and the gull but the question hangs in the air suspended there from the rafters does pain end? I am lonely and my reflection says me too. And so with that refrain the formal structure of trauma begins. These sibling relationships that were supposed to shield me from others did not. There is an assessment and an imperfect evaluation when it comes to the people in my life. I invest in the feeling of safety. Safety for me is books. I speak of loneliness and memory as if they never have experienced my sorrows.

I tell myself I must assess the results of my efforts to prove that I am legit. I explore the mundane to find myself at the end of the world. I research the faces of women to find myself there but I only find a river of money and the mission statement of a territorial anointing. There are days when I tell myself to focus on the internal, not on the external. So I turned to screenwriting and told myself to focus on the happiness I have inside myself and the joy I bring to others. It is so easy I have discovered to fall into brooding and negative patterns of thinking. Filmmaking to me became as noble a profession as teaching.

In the picture the pretty lady standing next to him is wearing pink lipstick and huge sunglasses. She looks like my sister and is extraordinarily lovely. I count the lemons on the sitting room table. I don’t want him to leave the room. I can’t take my eyes off his countenance. Soon he’ll be in another country. I’m numb to the daylight that pours itself into the room.

I study this woman. I study this lady’s features. I wonder what it would be like to be her. To feel him moving on top of me and inside of me. I don’t know her. I have never met her. She is going to be a child psychologist one day. She lives alone in that house (her mother’s house) but she’s planning on selling it. Her aunt is going to help her sell it. Soon he’s going on holiday to Brazil. You can’t leave her behind if you’re planning on marrying her, I wanted to tell him. I waited for him to come and say goodbye to me but he never did. Out of the blue left. It was a cold winter day and it was pouring with rain. There was snow on the mountains in the Eastern Cape. My memories almost always seemed to be made up of an obituary of a relationship coming to an end and the glow of winter. I see her in my mind’s eye in his flat preparing a meal. He will eat his supper until he’s sated. They’ll spend the rest of the evening watching television. Probably end up messing around on the couch. She’ll comb his hair with his fingers as he holds her tight. Maybe she’ll sit on his lap and they’ll take selfies. I’m faraway. I’m capturing the castle.

He used to come over to my house whenever he felt like it and tell me everything. He told me about the women he slept with. I used to write a lot of love poems to him that made him not come and see me for over a year. He yelled at me once but I was patient and kind. He called my clinical depression psychosis but I remained calm and didn’t even flinch. I told myself I was in love with him. I told myself I would wait for him. The things a woman would do for a man out of a quiet fear and desperation.

“There’s nothing wrong with you Gail. There’s plenty wrong with the people in this house but you have nothing to worry about.” The man turned to look at her pensive face and hugged her tight to him. He had a way of twisting sobriety out of those moments whenever she felt unsteady on her feet.

“You make me feel normal. We must cook for you before you go.” but she let it go when she saw that he wasn’t excited about her invitation.

“I’ve been meaning to go to Brazil. I told you.” He took a cigarette out of a box on the table and asked for an ashtray before he lit it.

“I wish I could be more adventurous like you.” She sat opposite him. He never stayed for long. He could only sit still for the length that it took to smoke two cigarettes and then he vanished. He never called before he came over either. She was where he always expected her to be. At home surrounded by dogs and her elderly father.

“Are you happy Gail? Really happy?”

“Most days Eugene.”

“You look good.”

“Who are you seeing now? The girl I mean.”

“She’s not like us. Which I like. She’s not an intellectual I mean.”

“Don’t be sad.”

“I’m not.”

“Don’t be sad that I’m leaving.”

“I’m not.”

“You don’t have to put on a pose for me.”

“I know Eugene.”

I don’t know who I am. Most days I feel invisible and tired. I’m Antigone. I’m Sexton’s gold. I’m so Plathian in my outlook. You have to look good to feel good. I’m a ghost in the land of the living. I used to feel alive and self-aware knowing he lived 10 minutes away and now I don’t know what I’ll do without him.

Abigail George
Abigail George
Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominated shortlisted and longlisted poet Abigail George is a recipient of four writing grants from the National Arts Council, the Centre for Book and ECPACC. She briefly studied film, writes for The Poet, is an editor at MMAP and Contributing Writer at African Writer. She is a blogger, essayist, writer of several short stories, novellas and has ventured out to write for film with two projects in development . She was recently interviewed for Sentinel, and the BBC.