The Novelist’s Burning Sincerity To Bring Words To Life

Here there are no ducks in the park in their own world of silence marking time with their song. I am utterly alone. I have nothing to say to anyone. No advice. It’s just ducks and birds. This park bench. This uncomfortable park bench. Meaningless things. I bought an ice cream but it melted so fast that I threw it away. A dog looked mournfully at me. Its owner glanced at me as I did this and gave me a look. I feel as empty as a drum. The day is a mouldy orange peel sticking to the fence where a young teenage girl is talking to a boy. Do I stay or do I go? I kind of feel as if I am invading their privacy.

I am learning the writing lessons of a novelist as I sit here. Oh, these signs that point me in the direction of context, narrative and concept but today I don’t feel powerful. I want the ground to swallow me up whole. I want to make clay animals out of the soil with the ducks watching me and birds breathing at my neck. I could walk to the local swimming pool from here if I want to but all I feel is pain of the interloper kind. Everyone around me is a symbol for something. This park life that I am inhabiting now is also a cosmos and the people in it, I lean back trying to make myself more comfortable, are planets and I am the one set with the task of aligning them. How I am going to do that is classified information. In detail when I get to the house a ten minute walk from here I will journal, “I must love dogs”.

This is just a pathway to an inner world. It’s my discipline to deliver it. Don’t you see? I have lost my moral compass and my bearings have turned into shiny non-conformist  marbles. This dog thinks it is a rock star. It ignores me now and I turn for home and think of my sister on holiday in Moldova. She is walking on black seasand and a sun hat obscures her face in the photograph.

My sister adores her reflection; her face is a lake, the face of a scholarship girl. I watch her swallow shiny things, flicker, go up in flames, rise towards truth in the flesh and the spirit, her celestial madness and I ask myself does she never feel fear or vulnerable, does she never meditate on the sun only on our silence. She was a pianist when she was younger, tap-tap-tapping the clouds of the keys. I can only survive with the memory of my Edward. I can no longer kill the sirens with their elegant-shapes. The sirens who slit their wrists, jump off bridges, leave the car running, and hang themselves. They are becoming as rare as the rainforest pilgrims. Perhaps they were too pure for this world, the heat of their sensitivity could not withstand dissolving in water, withstand a pilgrimage, listening to the noise in a glitter-ball-world, arrows of ballads flying through the air landing at their feet like dew, sounding like a symphony or Beethoven. Every dress, every heel, silk stockings, perfume is a gift but who will receive them? Daughters? Orphans? The Salvation Army? A fete’s jumble sale? Is it for a wedding, a baby’s christening? Beautiful women become ghosts of themselves like leaves.

Weaving delicious spice sinking inside a pot, I concentrate on the bowl, opening my mouth wide. A cardamom pod. A green bitter capsule floating, winking in warm milk, white rice and tapioca. I have no sister. She is as dead to me as I am most probably to her. This empty vessel has melted away into the distance. Pink is my favourite colour. The walls, the walls, the walls have eyes. I am walking on the beach. I sit down on the warm sand, there is something loving about it, my physical body dissolves in it, my hands takes on the texture of the sand, my soft shoes in my hand. I have pebbles in my hand. Where have they come from? I do not remember the history of all of this salt, and this light. I do not need food only the marriage of bread and butter and piping-hot tea, wet masala that perfects a steaming curry with cinnamon sticks folded into it to take the warmness away. Loving, losing, living, laughter can be harsh sometimes, the brightness of sadness, illumined loneliness. I am a cup. Turn it over and you will discover it is empty of a spell. There is only the image of the cup that envelops my mind’s eye. I am done with being distracted by ego and diaries. I am done; I am through with married men. No matter how distinguished they might seem to be on the surface. Stiffs, veterans, and the family man. I am not Edward’s wife. He is dead to me. Look how he decomposes. My cries brood, roost. Watch how the flowers glow on his grave, scorch my possessive grip. Watch how the petals fall, the foliage wilts, the grass grows like difficulties, a thin scar that still wounds, once this man was a pearl, wise beyond his years who taught me to invoke British Poet Laureates, Rilke, Goethe, Shakespeare, Lord Byron, Wilde, Woolf, Susan Sontag, Joyce Carol Oates and Carol Ann Duffy. Edward has turned me into an invalid who takes naps in the heat of a post-apartheid African Renaissance South African afternoon. He is more than an illusion. He is a man dressed in black, in snakeskin cowboy boots, staring at me with snake eyes, covering me with a shroud, touching me with angelic hands, his voice an instrument pushing buttons, accomplishing everything that his mind has set out to do with a quiet, unwavering, bewildering intelligence. Old-fashioned seduction. The path of least resistance. I too am now an empty vessel, axed, amped, and well established in observation. Edward’s wife is the poet Sylvia. On her wedding day she was the blushing bride who stroked the cream frill at her collarbone, starved herself because she was so nervous, oil on her hands, a veil to cover her virginal face from her groom.

Abigail George
Abigail George
Abigail George is an author, a screenwriter and an award winning poet. She is a Pushcart Prize, two-time Best of the Net nominated, Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Prize longlisted, Writing Ukraine Prize shortlisted, Identity Theory's Editor's Choice, Ink Sweat Tears Pick of the Month poet/writer, and 2023 Winner of the Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Award. She is a two-time recipient of grants from the National Arts Council, one from the Centre of the Book and another from ECPACC. She won a national high school writing competition in her teens. She was interviewed by BBC Radio 4, and for, the USA Today Network and The Tennessean. Follow her on Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram @abigailgeorgepoet.