A GUIDE TO A WOMAN’S COURAGE
(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.
HERE NOW, MADNESS
(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: Pixabay.com remixed