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A Guide to a Woman’s Courage: Poetry by Abigail George

a woman's courage
Image: remixed

(for the Dutch poet Joop Bersee)

     I dream love. Dream myself up a costume,

     a school of music into a good man who
     will hopefully become a husband. (Of course,
     I had hoped to have children, once. Once.) Names to me
     have become like important dates in history.
     The territories and borders of Christianity are
like keys to me. They have a way of letting me into a
sleepy faraway city while Rapunzel was letting
     down her hair. I live with my parents (that
     makes me a little girl again). An elderly, infirm
     forgetful man and a strapping deaf woman
     in her mid-sixties. I’m not making love anymore.
     I don’t want to be a mistake but you see I am
     a mistake. I am driftwood and chaos caught in a
     flux. I am forgotten not by children but by parents.
     A mother who is not proud of what I have
become (a poet). A father who I love, adore, admire and am
     very much in awe of. All I have left are fragments
     of the Sussex man. Once I lived and breathed
     for him. This no ordinary man. Once I lived
     for shoes and dresses. Believed they had supporting
     roles to play in life. I was a lonely girl who
     has become a lonely woman. Today’s sky is a
     blue storm of atoms and fragments and in

those particles I can see an image of the riot of the sun.
     I can see the face of the man I loved once. The woman I once was.


(for Helen Zille and mum)

     We are all merchants. Merchants turning
     into dust. We are all the governing bodies
     of this secret earth-world. The museum of
     anarchy. For a short while we are all made
of this prize called flesh, thirst, spirit-body, and
     this paradise of floating heaven somewhere
     between hell and earth. We are not this
     body. Perhaps though we’re a tribal place
     made of poles and hymns. We’re made of
     our own sun, planets, satellites far-flung
     into space. Perhaps there’s a moon inside
     each of us spinning around on its own axis.
     I am future leader. I am government leader.
     I am thinkable, the hyperbole, the sad, the
     melancholy, speech, salvation, redemption.
     Say the word and I am all these things.
     Pulse and voice. The universal dancer to
     God. We are all living productive cells of
light, love, salt. We are liberty. We are holy freedom.
     We are created both ghost and warrior. I
am the voice accepting of the relevant opinion.
     The voice of reason, revolution, liberation.

Girl child. Boy child. Young man and woman. Let us go
left foot right foot beyond what we are called for.


(for Bessie Head and Winnie Mandela)

     Nigeria you’re the thief that stole
     my heart. The streets are breathing.
     Pavements slick and wet with the
     spit of summer rain. Towers, citadels,
     cathedrals, churches, malls collapse
     all around us. The world as we know
is changing all around us. Transforming
     our realities. Earthquakes (big and
     small going Nagasaki on us. Waterfalls are
     not found in Nigeria. Oil reserves
     are. I want to build it again. That
     kind of eco-system. The perfect eco-
     system. Greenness. Nigeria has inspired me. I have friends
     there. Good friends depending on the
     weather forecast. This female version
     of John Updike. I envision him in my
     head when I write stories. This female
     vision of Joyce Carol Oates inside my
head’s frail ego and shop-identity whenever
     (wherever I write my poems). I write
     my poems. I write my poems. I write my poems. My poems.
     Chimamanda Adichie comes from
Nigeria but not the other artists that have given form,
     technique, style, shape to me. These
     women I think to myself have been
wounded (much like me in my short life).
     Zadie Smith, Ingrid Jonker, Bessie
     Head, Adeline Virginia Woolf, Diana
Ferrus. Once, Nigeria was the interloper cast-out. No
     more. No more. No more. She is the
     the new coin in my hand. My purse.
     She’s the morning dew in my hand.
     The currency that I deal in. And so,
     daylight worms its way inside my heart.
     Fills up all the gaps and spaces until,
     until all loneliness is no more. Until
sad futility is no more famished than I am.

Poems (c) Abigail George
Image: remixed

Abigail George
Abigail George
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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