The future of seawater towards immortality, dust singing of sick birds. My sister was the former, and I, the latter. The night air clandestine and spiritual. Your country, in faraway Johannesburg, is a haunted land filled with the proverbial thirst. The measures of longing. Of dying to belong to feast and the imperative. Every broken family is filled with cracks in their system. Their lungs overflowing with flame like a fireplace in a mansion. I don’t know whether this shoreline will still be here in a decade. I’m thinking of the wind. Feasting my eyes on gulls. It’s beautiful out here. The singing geography here reminds me of Alice in her wonderland. A word like ‘emphasis’.
I cannot comprehend how she moves in the world now yet I still see the beauty in the spell of her eyes. I’ve loved her, my sister (who lives in faraway Johannesburg now), from afar my entire life. I see and hear everything in this doctor’s waiting room. The receptionist with her open, friendly smile when she comes to check my sugar. I never wanted to be a poet. Instead, it chose me. Maturity comes with letting go. Learning how to fly and then with having no expectations you will find wealth there. A wealth of spirituality, knowledge, prosperity within you. We both needed each other for the longest time and then we didn’t. That’s honesty for you. I cannot comprehend the depth of her in the world, anymore. She is no longer my muse.
When ice turns to water there’s attraction there. A certain kind of belonging in the world. My brother is about to become a father. It seems he can’t tolerate my madness anymore. (I have a secret to tell you now. This I confess with my own tongue). Neither can the ‘Johannesburg people’ either. I have tears in my eyes as I sit in front of the family doctor. His daughter has just started university. We have known, the family doctor, him, ever since she was knee high. (On not having children). I have other gifts. Ordinary ones as well as extraordinary. (On turning forty in a few years’ time). I have lived a life filled with buoyant ecstasy and hope. Of stars and hands. Her hands breathe anonymity and fire. Fire. Open your eyes, the windows to your soul, I want to tell her.
You have a lovely mind. When it faces despair and hardship, it is still beautiful. It is like the wind. Wind holding onto its breath. When it is tired of this world and in need of a cure, its dazzle is still staggering. Let’s do away with film and entertainment somehow just because you’re a part of it. Let’s do away with the winter so, we can’t feel the cold anymore. Let’s do away with the memory of you, while we’re at it, because you’re a reminder of sweetness. Of just how sweet life can be. My hair is tangled like wildflowers found in a field. I am standing in a doorway with the child on my hip after eating a light supper. Far away, I imagine, that the ocean is lit up by stars.
Trucks pass by my house daily on the highway and then I think of you. Prague. Thailand. New York. India. I think of another world emerging. I think of how I never had the blueprint of these words, ‘Must travel,’ on my soul. Instead, I dream of a house. A garden. A patio. A husband, with a deadpan expression on his face, (always), who gives me dreamy moon-faced daughters. A son who asks for a telescope for Christmas and plays soccer and cricket with his friends. The horizon is abundant. Symbolic. Near. Expertise found at the edge of the world. A fortunate precipice. This country matters. The black weaved to the earth. Images of cherished elixir. I remember how badly I use to scrape my knees in the school parking lot.
The barely-concealed feelings of tension of my parents beneath the winter surface of the environment. The environment connected to the black soil, rich ochre, clay feet, the sun, tenderness. Oh, but she’s lovely. Really, she is. Once you get to know her. I am always saying this of other women, as if I can see into their soul. Yes, I must travel to the birthplace of Rilke. I must see the canals and the bridges of Amsterdam. I must travel to London where my father studied. See the continent in much the same way he did (on a tour). I must see the coast of Great Britain but it is Africa that matters to me. The seed of her hymns in daylight.
Her people that are as rich and golden to me as plumped up spoons of honey used to sweeten dishes. One day, I promise myself, I will have acquired the husband who is the strong and silent type and then we will travel the world, and I think to myself that having babies can make you feel giddy with happiness. Giddy with inner music. Strong feelings, and you will find in that arrangement of space, a sophisticated kaleidoscope of religion if you have not found it before.
One day, I want to live in a house with a swimming pool. Decorate the walls with paintings. Fill it with opera. The sound of classical music. I want to listen to the rebellion of my children on the stairs. Chairs being pushed back from the table. Guests hovering.
One hand on their plate filled with finger food. The other hand carrying a champagne flute daintily. (My anatomy still lovely, well, as always, but what are these fascinating, gut-wrenching waves?). Sickness wrenching infirmity from my soul, bladder, kidneys, and my stiff joints. In other words, (I’m abandoned). In more words (show, don’t tell). And the briefest moment overtook me. Overwhelmed my senses. My intuition until the measure of loss vibrated in my soul. Lost innocence. Lost youth. Apprehension obscuring the view that I have of political violence and brutality from where I am solitude, standing. This is where solitude is measured. Using the lack of furniture of the room. There is a bed facing the windows. A chair. A desk. Books on the desk.
Arranged neatly on a shelf. Newspaper cuttings filled with photographs of the writer. Interviews. This is my life now.
My picture in the paper. In a few years, I will turn forty. My picture still appearing in the paper, and in writing these notes on the metaphysical, there is the letting go of solitude.
Image: Fred T. via Pixabay (remixed)