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Abigail George: Ode to Therapy

The Verbal Agreement

(for the Dutch English poet Joop Bersee)

Take this hunk of a man and his buttonhole
fit for a red carnation. Take this half woman
stem thing and give her diamonds. Save the
flowers for the grave, the voices that come at
night, the apparitions that serve day. Take this
gust of wind and put it in your pocket. Grind
the sap of the stem into a good heart that
has a degree of understanding, the heat of the
day, of the mentally ill. Silence lives in this
house with the cognitive and the loud. I think
of all my triggers. I think of the woman and
the man in the picture. The woman must have
restricted the man in ways she could not even
begin to imagine. The man did not support her.
The half a woman had longing on her side. The
man had unlimited vision, original thinking
on his. The river has long forgotten about
her resources for growth and development.
The hunk of a man was humble, but humility is
not enough in a human relationship. You
need to have a guru, long walks that have a
kind of complexity about them. Add a gospel
comfort and the kind of war that this has on
body and mind. The steak is cooking in night.
Observe the little flapping tails of the sardines
as they meet the sea. Observe the Dalai Lama.
Observe the wild. Observe the wildflowers.
Fry this fish and serve it with day old bread
and hot chips. Sprinkle a liberal amount of
salt and vinegar over these greasy chips. Say ‘yum’.
Sup. Go on. Eat. Eat your fill. Rest. Go on rest

and then announce to the world how your
world fell apart when the hunk of a man left
and you realized that you were no longer whole
nor part of a unit. You could only remember
the perception of yourself when you were
with this man. You remember his incredible aura, his
authentic personality and you mourn. You put
sackcloth on and mourn the stem life of the
thing and realize that absence is what you stop
seeing. The half of a woman still has the guru
but not the man. He is ether. He is air. He is
heir. He is fundamentally not part of the psycho-
social equilibrium of the salt of the half woman
half slender thing standing inside the floor like a
tree or rather a forest of trees moving inside the
thinking photograph of the stream. Everything is
a mental picture of what she wants to be. A remark.
Mourning her incredible life with the hunk of a
man, she knows to be happy will take grit. Wit.


No Longer May the Sun Be the Only Accomplishment

(for the Dutch English poet Joop Bersee)

Every man has my brother’s nose and
my father’s ears. Humility is deserving
of highest honor. I think of the injustice of
greatness. How it serves the order of a
few leaving the routine of followers in its
wake. It is difficult to be joyous. It is difficult
to love and be loved in return. He does
not have nightmares anymore now that
she sleeps over. I could not stop his nightmares.
I don’t know how to be kind to others.
Only how to sink to their level. I don’t
know how to be grown up all the time.
Only to abandon and neglect. Even when
no one else is kind, be kind they say. I
say to this. Water. Drink. It is refreshing.
It will nourish your weary soul. Your mind
that takes so much strain. The turf that
you cover. To achieve greatness is simple.
Perhaps here is where we should be kind
to others instead of being animal. Instead
of placing our thoughts above others’ thoughts.
I don’t have birthday parties anymore. I
only acknowledge stigma. I need shelter
because I have a homeless power about me
that requires the kingdom of sanctuary and a
remembering comes over me. That I have
so many people to thank for where I am
today. Of how the family I live with just left
my food on the stove uneaten. The rice was
off after a few days. The chicken hardly touched
and winter cold. Skin chewy and greasy. The
pumpkin just breathing under a cloth just
saved. The man is a Christian psychiatrist
and a church but he left. The difference is
he planted a kind of life within me. I think of
how like a fish in the river I am now. I am
as inhabitable as a cloud. I exist to live for
self and ego. Camping out under the stars I
remember my mother’s depression. My father’s
mania. My self-care and food addictions.
My fascination with history and my paternal

grandfather. I go into the eternal. Yes, I visit
there to love myself because it seems as if I
am loved by no one. I visit the sea but those
are visitations to childhood. The sad sea licks
my feet as if it understands me more than
my own mother does. There is a gap in the
subject matter of my brain due to stays in hospitals
and mental wards. Yes, I am spoiled. I have
a spoiled identity and when we meet and become
friends perhaps I will gift you, flowers and
books and plays that are classics. Those are
things that I want to receive myself. Things
a poor struggling artist cannot afford to give
to herself. So, I give this to the world. Reading
material and pamphlets on sleep hygiene and
depression. I give my art. The holy self-knowledge
of my father’s heart. For the heart that I was
born with is a good thing. It beats like gold. It
has a perfectionist streak. This over-achiever.


Ode to Therapy

(for the Dutch English poet Joop Bersee)

The therapist sits in his chair not so high
and mighty. The woman is talking, talking,
talking but mostly talking to herself. Then
something resonates within her. She stops
as if to remember something that she can’t
quite place. This is where the therapist interjects.
Now he is the one to be excited. It is his
turn to talk. He offers her advice but she
wants to talk about the wildflowers she is
writing about in this poem she is working
on. She takes this personally that her therapist
is so happy that he is talking. She goes as
still as a branch in winter. She becomes like
a tree making no sound. No movement at all
becomes her. You are being honest, he

says in passing. The woman takes this as
praise. Happily, she interrupts him. He is silent again.
A shadow falls in the room, dusts itself off
and makes its escape through the closed door.
The room is hot and stuffy. Even the cacti
have died here. The medical aid is paying
off the dividends of the transaction in this
room. The woman is made of physics and
bone. Her vibrations are made of waves.
In turn made of the chemistry of powerful
little waves. Now she is tired, feels dejected
and sits back in her chair feeling depleted
of all her energies. He gives her a page with
the word ‘boundaries’ written on it. She is
startled. She wants to start talking about the barren
husk within her now but time is nearly up.

It is homework, he explains. It will do her
good to go to the library and go for long
walks. He thinks I am making progress, the
woman thinks about this statement in her
mind with care. She stands up, opens the
door and remembers that she forgot to take
her medication that morning. Am I alright,
she asks her soul. There is a delay in going.
The therapist tells her back that the sun is
out there. It is waiting for her collect call. She
wants to stop behaving in a negative fashion.
She wants to believe in freedom again, and
leave the house but leaving the house is difficult.
It crosses her mind that she can manage the
shops. She needs to make another filter to pour
out all her tears. Her footsteps are algebraic.



(for the Dutch English poet Joop Bersee)

Her personal boundaries were in her control.
Her responsibility to let it go. Let go of drive. Ego.
Departmental stuff and awareness of self and other.
The man had his life. Orgasm. Then he left her
like a cloud leaves the scenario of a house standing
by a lake. Lonely and sad. She behaved differently to
men and other women her age. Began to move in a
kind of awareness that everything was against her.
She was different in the world when she saw the power
in men. She began to see the image of this man in
front of her in everything that she touched, in film,
in television, in her weeping and even in the food
that she cooked. She walked in aisles as if walking
on air. She stopped wearing perfume because he
had mentioned that word to her once. It had taken
on a life, that word, of its own. She wanted to forget
but not forgive the act between them. She thought
that she never would but a day came when she woke
up and the hurt cut through her like a mutton cloth
through grease, a knife stabbing through the air and
she began to think of him as a Lothario. The affair
as crime. The nations within her turning into bleak
houses. She added the peppers without thinking
and breakthrough came. Her spirit breathed again as
she cried. For this was the logical next step. Grief.


To the man whose name she dares not speak and the sea

(for the Dutch English poet Joop Bersee)

The sky had evangelical work to do
while she worked on her novella and she wondered
if it was cold where the man was.

Poems © Abigail George
Image: Nicolas Messifet on Unsplash (modified)

Abigail George
Abigail Georgehttps://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5174716.Abigail_George/blog
South African Abigail George is a blogger, essayist, short story writer, screenwriter, novelist, and poet. She briefly studied film in Johannesburg. She has two film projects in development and is the recipient of two grants from the National Arts Council, one from the Centre for the Book and another from ECPACC. Her publishers are Tendai Rinos Mwanaka (Zimbabwe, Mwanaka Media and Publishing or Mmap), Xavier Hennekinne (Australia/New Zealand, Gazebo Books), and Thanos Kalamidas (Finland, Ovi). Her literary representative is Morten Rand. She is a Pushcart Prize, Best of the Net nominated, and European Union Poetry Prize longlisted poet. Her poem “The Accident” was Identity Theory's Editor's Choice for Spring. Ink Sweat and Tears chose her poem “When light poured into me at the swimming pool” as a September Pick of the Month, and she recently made the shortlist of the Writing Ukraine Prize 2023. She is a poet/writer who believes in the transformative, restorative and healing powers of words. Her latest book is Letter To Petya Dubarova (Australia/New Zealand, Gazebo Books). Young Galaxies (a poetry book) was released in 2023 from Mmap and a memoir When Bad Mothers Happen is forthcoming. “Clarissa, Hector and Septimus Redefined” was recently published by Novelty Fiction in Kindle format.

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