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You Will Never Grow Old: Poems by Abigail George


(For my parents)

In childhood there was
always a train window
to look out of. The bus
ride to look forward to.
At the end of the day, there
was a story of the ways of
the old South End (as we knew it)
that you might not know
anything of because you are a foreigner.
(It was before the forced removals).
There was the story behind
Bethelsdorp. There was
a man, a teacher, my father.
There was a scholar, a thesis.
There was a book, ‘South

End: The Aftermath’.
I knew nothing of the London
Missionary Society. The
Northern Areas. The promulgation
of the Group Areas Act or
apartheid when I was
a child but now I seem
to be an expert on what
happens to the genius
and creativity of a generation. ‘The pen sits
decisively in my hands’.
The words of another writer.
Another poet. As I write this.
This brief history lesson on infirmity and decay.
Conversation, sacrifice.


(for ‘Hannah’ Arendt)

The moon’s currency
is our compensation.
A morning filled with
dreams and goals follows. The
growth of every leaf
on a branch takes place
in silence. Every cry
speaks to the call of the
heart and stagnation
comes with the respect
between bone and flesh,
invasion and progress,
driftwood and the ocean-sea.
The cattle in the fields,
the surf of the ocean-river of
an African dream. Make
a ball with your hands.
Clench your fist and you
will feel something secretive
break inside of you.

Cool, quiet fingertips
filled with the thrill of
envy. Even memories
have human voices. In
the heat of the day I see
my mother’s face in every
horizon. She is my sun, my dahlia.
The heat of the day finds
itself in the pudding and
roast chicken made by ‘my
dahlia’. It reminds me
of childhood crumbs on
the Sunday table. My hands
sticky from the caramel
sauce. My mouth and breath
warm with syrup and the appendix of
baked apples. Instalments
of glaring and competition
with my younger siblings.


(For Caroline and Vincent Le Roux)

I sometimes forget how
the romance of anticipation
moves in this world.
Nostalgia found in happy
situations or conflict. I try
and forget the wounds.
The pain that passes through
my body as I walk away
from the shyness of the
desert. The yolk of mystery
in the loins of flame of a broken
night or a wave. The ego
of the birth of moonlight.
The message in the show of
the damaged bird. We are
desperate for our souls to see
and experience untouched
freedom. It is not the windows
of the heart that turns to dust
again nor the eyes that are
the windows of my soul. The
wreck of world drama.
Bricked walls, speech found

in the afternoon. A spine
at rest. Safe from the world at large.
Voice stoned. Once stories
and truth was nourished,
censored, banned during apartheid.
Day is awash with the force
of a powerful reckoning and at
once I remember the faculties of that
broken night. The self-awareness
of winter, rain sinking into
ochre and the detailed tapestry of the
salt breeze. Eating finger food
at a wake. Beware of the ancient,
the universe seems to sing. The
business of focal points,
angled pockets and orbits. Remembering
eating the country of ice-cream in childhood.
I find myself in a swimming
pool. My flesh tingling. Washed
clean. The fire inside my head
has a haunting precipice where
thoughts meet concentration.
Tears whispering of loneliness.


(For ‘my’ Julian)

This is what the meaning
of life is. It was your world, this,
well it was your world
and now it is mine.
What is this sudden matrilineal pleasure?
The transparency of
winter light. Its profusion
engulfs me. Compels me
to write this. The wreck
of the morning unwinds
at its own pace. So does
the pigment of the lit earth.
The ends brightening of
the blue sky. The staring
and hiddenness of lovers
slowly become a part
of belonging, reality, normalcy,
history and even fiction.
You enter my world wordlessly
like ritual, heritage or
inheritance. Before he,
the boy, Julian is stolen

from me he becomes a memory.
This is the pleasure that
brings us closer together even
closure so let pleasure linger.
He does not know me
when I am angry. No,
he has never seen me like that.
He has never seen me
happy and sad at the same
time (in other words manic).
Frightened, frustrated, guilty
or high. He has always
seen me composed though.
I just want to belong to
this world. Same as the next person.
Same as him. I also wish for
grandchildren but that’s
a poem for another time.
Another place. Other soil.
Another shine in the windowpane.
He is still a stranger to me.
Julian, Julian, Julian.


(For Ezra Pound and T.S. Eliot)

The soul needs some kind of sanctuary.
One day he’ll stop asking
Me out point blank. He’ll stop asking me
To go with him to a poetry
Reading or an open air market, or a concert
Or to listen to jazz then what will
I do. I don’t go with him because of
Something he said. It’s against my
Principles. I am always making
Up all of these excuses. Not to spend
Time with him. Not to be in his
Company. I know we’re just friends.
We could never be more than
That but friends don’t tell each other
That they’re wasting their lives.
I don’t like people. I don’t like crowds.
They wound. They fight. They break
Up to kiss and make up again.
This is what people do in the real world and
My soul wants no part of that.
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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