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A Walk through these Empty Rooms: Poetry by Abigail George

empty rooms


Look, it is autumn. Autumn
rain. It is the beginning of a
brave new world. You don’t
understand me. You love me,
you say you do, but you don’t
understand me. I know of psychiatrists,
illness. Disability. I know of
medicine. Blood and water.
Cold flesh. ‘Just go black,’
my mother says. It is fasting
time. Lightning and thunder in my body.
I always have to wait for the
tiredness to lift to do anything of importance.
The autumn chill is in the air.
The breakfast wasteland of it all.
Things of bittersweet regret.

The tap roots are enormous.
I knew a boy called Julian once.
He played the guitar. I wonder
what he is doing now. The girls
that he dances with. The girls
that he kisses. The heavens opened up. How to forget.
Bees and mist dance on the surface
of the earth. Darkness is lifted. Granite is trapped there.
The same way that case studies
are trapped in caves in high care.
Instinct tells me that I can’t touch
love. That I can’t touch the sun.
Branches have the autumn chill inside them still.
This is a post-apartheid river. The people here are lonely and sad.
Precocious and intellectual. In
    a land faraway, people are on the move. They are getting
out of bed. Waking their children, taking showers,

    fixing breakfasts, fixing their hair.
    I am so attuned to it now. Drinking
my coffee to birdsong. It is morning and sanctuary

is no more for now. ‘Please love me,’
I said in my youth and my twenties.
Now I am saying, ‘don’t forget me.’



(A series of twelve haiku)

Lists helicopter
Even the flame is a dark-crutch –
Alien in exile

Even ghosts rehearse
To a moth in a winged trance –
You’re the rarest thing

I know that abyss
Watching-waiting. Caring nothing for me-you-us –
The sleep of the dead

Enormous knowing
Gravity swept-away-now-isn’t-that ironic! –
Lotus flower in-training

Years of memory
Selfish-person love will tear us apart –
Claws destroying things

Melodious fish
You must remember conceit –
(Even fish adapt)

Lists helicopter
The-rising-and-falling mirror is arrogant –
My pomegranate

It feels like the end
Feet sinks-into a cement bucket –
Storm drifts into view

Moon man is a lion
Chopstick thin skinny legs rain-tears –
Highlighting the void

That tastes like sugar
Moon man’s sun-woman with her perfumed-magazine hair
The light swims in blue-air

If I fall disguised
Loneliness sinks into bone’s-driftwood –
Speak-of life memory

Stars opened my heart
It was love at first sight underneath-the-stars –
Love that gave me life.



Our choices change the future
evolution of the universe. His
body is heaven’s plateau. A cold
and abstract metaphor. In old
age I will still remember the intimacy
we shared. The dark secret of
my childhood was my mother.
Lack of mother love I suppose.
Running down, running down to the purple sea. There
was magic and loneliness in
sleep. I dreamed at right angles.
It was home and impenetrable
sanctuary. I have wings on my back and sit at the window seat.
I am no stranger to the mad dance of
insomnia. The progress of heaven,
stones and the source of the word.
I burn and ache. I am free of thirst.
There’s a lightness behind my eyes.
I kissed her face. Sweet. Innocent.
Pure. Kissed her neck. Her shoulder blades.
The image of her flickers in the

night. She is the autumn leaf. She
gathers the sun on her wings and
I am in need of a room of my own. She’s the lost
thing. Water transforms. Even
sunlight floods, marks in the same way
sobriety does. The call of fragile life.
There’s the smell of grass. The smell of frying
steak. The smell of a mountain.

        Christmas was the same. Presents under the tree.
        Insomnia. I am a girl again. Pure like snow but it is
fleeting. This whirlwind.

You still come to me in a dream.
Searching poets find a reward.
I wish for flowers. After a bath,
she is dripping. Foal legs. The
translation comes with night.
I went to boarding school in Swaziland
and found otherworldly love there. A love for the environment.
        His beauty was haunting. So was Catherine’s.
        Catherine’s laughter still is a thing of courage.



No anchor for this paper tiger empress.
No age of iron for this literary orphan.

Plath, Sexton, Monroe.
Sirens wherever they
go. Your hair was blonde and
glittering that summer. Tangled
like meeting the wild
frontier of wildflowers.
We dance in empty rooms to
the music inside our white
and gnarled oak-bones.
She smells like green apples.
Hair from the page of a
magazine. She had the magic
of geography in her hands.
Grownups do bad things.
Mothers love their children.
Fathers love their children.
Once my mother was young and beautiful.
This image of my father has
a kind of refugee status.

My mother drank her tea from a cup. Always from a cup.

It was the duty of me as an
artist to understand the death
of solitude. The climate of
the water-fat and river-sea of
love. Touch was my bread.
My manna. Dad saved me.
Dad swam like an Olympian.
Mum believed in me while
I wrote my novel. She was the only one.
People can inspire you with
the harmony in their roots.
I want to call the world my own.
Darkness visible. Green and gold.
Pale and cold joy fills my lungs.
Winter for the soul. Healing rain.
I spy with my little eye hope.

Family life. A lifeline of a beautiful autumn dream.



I watch the fragments of
the sun in the history of water.
Agriculture reminds me
that nothing dies a natural death.

Little birds build the world they want with despair.
They are as thirsty as my universe is. Everything

is bleak here. Made of hardship.
Solitude and loneliness.
Man, wake up your soul on this Sunday morning!
You’re a collection of essays.
Hope and suffering. The blues.
A country made of coconut
milk and ice cream. Autumn.

There is blessing, nature, the
maturity of meat in your voice.
We have both been getting on
in years. Two aunts walked
down the aisle. Farewell Atlantis.
You’re a beautiful stranger to me now.
Even the moths want to be

accommodated now in this
post-apartheid South Africa.
There is a music school behind his
wet stone eyes. Aspects of love.
This is why the sea does not
glitter anymore during the day.
I was happy once when I was

connected to you. When you
held me in your arms and kissed me.
There when I found the sun.
The sky was ancient there until
I came upon the sun. The moon-
light had no melody or chords.
It was raining men and women and
when the radiant sun came out

it rained golden. I came to life in her tiny kitchen in Cape Town.

I was the polite and fragile one.
I used her steaming pots and
clay face mask. Her bath oils
and her umbrella. Her flat was near
the mountain. I would drink
her tea all by myself in the afternoons
before she came home from work. She belonged
to the autumn asphalt jungle.



    I can feel the rain even
    when I close my eyes.
Taste it in my mouth. Here’s the fabulous
    ambitious sun. A warning to

    all who dream of living
    and making it good in
    the big city. The land is
    black at night. It haunts.
    It haunts. Filled with shadows
    and light and despair. I
    face beating fears in the
    moonlight’s rural country.
    The haunting abandonment of
    touch scores my personality in
    some indefinable way. The
    discipline and source of silence
    marks me like death.

    Faith can break you.
    Transform the fire in your heart.
    The compass that I
    hold in my hand helps
    me navigate my passage
    north. The constant heat
of the day shining for
all of its worth in all its
    silken slumber. Liberty
    is master. Proof is mistress.
    I find pleasure in my
    mother’s garden. The sun glides
    across my spirit. Winged sphere
    and harmless burn. The sports of
earth. My grief is published here on the page.
    Grief, I don’t want to

forget you. Your triumph fierce. The sea is made up of

    the vibrations of a
purple light. Tide and current washed
    up on the shore.
    You’re a shadow of a
    telephone pole. All things lovely beating down my door.

    The foam blooms a white kind of spray.
    Mankind’s soul is a faithful progress.
    She has a starling mouth. The lips of a mermaid.
    I can still taste the rain in my mouth.

Poems © Abigail George

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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