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Healing an Old Relationship: Poems by Abigail George

Image: Joshua Newton via Unsplash


On the wings and prayer of a dove

     Leaves falling to the ground.
     Poet first and writer second.
     Futility is complex. Gathering
     the declarations of an eternal

flame. I keep all the secrets of
my heart. The feminine is subtle
like chicken and soup. It is the masculine
that is the mysterious. My mother
and sister. My mother waves us
over to the table where she welcomes us.
Now I am considered an exile.

Living between captivity and breath, gathering
the subtle energies of pleasure and
pain. I delight in the seasons of music.

     Classical music and opera. The complexity
     of its mood. Sketches of family drama
     and history. Museums and farms.
     Then I am yours, lover. To have and
     to hold onto. To cherish the familiar of you but

you are not here and a decade cuts through
the separation. Cuts a divide. Your blood
ripens and condemns me. Feeds, nurtures me.
Your flesh is a delicacy and so is your bone.
I write from the valley. Mark a thin passage
through darkness. I long for your company
but you are no longer here. I only know this
heat. I only know this orange air. This global
warming. Hollow. Hollow is my voice. Is
my life. My house. Overhead a feast of blue.
A sea that tastes like honey in the space of my dreams.

     You’re white and light and eternal.
     You belong to the hereafter. To the

eternity. Your memory glows bright.
Big with love. Bright with an intensity.
The sea is as important as the King Sun. Soon it will be dark and there will
be nothing but stars and moonlight out.
And your face will bloom and bloom at will.



‘You have a sadness about you.’

Somebody said that to me once
When I was young and brave.
‘And sadness in one as young as
You is frightening.’ Sadness and
Loneliness in an old woman is

Frightening too and sad. Sanctuary
Is found in a winter leaf. A portrait
In blues. My mother never told me
About boys. The long, slow, wet

     Kisses that were on their minds.
     Their arms around your waist at a

school dance. Hands caressing your back in circles.

I’m a swimmer. I’m a daughter.
My father is the summer dad.
My mother, the winter woman.
Ice running through her veins.
She’s sage and star and loved up.
She never taught me that boys
Were like magic. That I was Khoi.
Johannesburg was like an open
Book to me. I had reading hands.
Women there described men as magic.
I have disappeared under stars in
the middle of a winter in Johannesburg.

     I no longer need lithium.
     It nearly killed me to tell
     You the honest truth. There is dirt
     under her (mum) fingernails as she works in the garden.

     I no longer need lithium.
     Haven’t I said that already?

     It is important for you to know that I no longer
     Need it to live and breathe and to gather my instinct to me.
     Where am I now and what is my reason for living?

     Once my lover’s hands felt like braille.
     His tender words were like tea leaves.
     Tea spilled from the cup I was drinking.
     And then,
     I was a lovesick flesh and blood woman again.



(For the poet Joop Bersee)

It’s because you’re in love
With the poem or life. You take the
bread of hope, the time to
reflect on it. With it being a
modern fairy tale when it is
read out loud or received by
an audience of other poets. Sober ones.
Are poets ever ‘the sober ones’? You’re you. The poet
undiscovered. The words

are often not there to describe
the light of day, glare, depth, interviews. Inside
     the poet’s head lies a multitude of unexplored supernatural
links to the experimental.

There it comes in the distance.
     The barefoot lull of some hearts.
Swim! Swim like a fish.
Teeth! Let’s go for it.
Cave-diving for sharks
underneath the sea. Let’s swim for it.
A river in your hair.
Ablutions across your shoulders.

It’s because the world is
          beautifully painful
while myth and treasure
at the same time is telling you
to discover it. You tell yourself

     this is vital. Energy.
Necessary for instinct. Your success.

Personal development. Poets
drunk on the exquisite journey of
an ingredient list or being
joyously drunk on basic language!
Drunk on the seasons!
Drunk on the birthdays
of trees, of silence, of war!
Drunk on the congregation of people on sandy beaches or
in church on Sunday mornings!

     Let me speak now of snow on winter branches!

You are the mysterious.
The mysterious flame.
Rings of people growing and growing
graduating to a circle
around you the day of your funeral. The
universal order. You are an island. Nerves
of steel and a glint in your eye. Part of
the driven, committed,
devoted, passionate few.
This, this is not goodbye.
You burn right through me as if I am nothing.

     You are the mysterious.

Poems: © Abigail George
Image: Joshua Newton via Unsplash

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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