The song-bird woman and child pulled down to earth

(for the Dutch poet Joop Bersee)    

     This lizard it is an exile like me. This grid I have put it away for 

     holy-good like the sad laughter in this stone house of obedience.

     I don’t know yet if it must be forgotten. This sadness exploding

into grasp like the cold creature comforts of D.H. Lawrence’s ghost.

     I keep watch over spring or it keeps watch over me. I 

don’t know which. I only know this. This book changed my life.


     Sometimes when I get angry my anger is as hot as a desert 

     and I don’t ask for permission. Only that you listen. I forget.

     Please forgive me when I forget. Please, please, forgive 

     me when I forget myself. Once, yes, once, you were like 

     Persia to me. Paris. The Midwest. Singing prairie tunes.

     The bag of bones of poverty, you, have forsaken me. The 

     frame of my skull flapping-flapping in the wind. There’s 

     the song. For us to prosper we must now go to summer’s 

end. Travel far and wide over dangerous terrain. We mustn’t

     falter or lose hope for our footsteps are sacred. The bird 

of a woman. Her child is at rest now. Safe in the arms of the radio


waves. Their lives are cast out into dereliction. Listen. If you     

     listen closely enough for all the possibilities you can imagine

     the framework of my skull celestial. Nimble fingers tapping 

     my patella. You centre of my being, nerve, every fibre of my

     being, brain, heart of mine. You’re an unfinished prophecy

     who has a smoker’s chest. You’re a panther. You have that 

     kind of allure. A Wisconsin-man kind of allure. Men in suits

     but all the time it was me. Song-bird woman was molested.

     Child rape on the news again. A draft of cold air in the room

     coming from the direction of the laundry room. The air has

     its talons inside the red beast of my heart again. I feel small.

     Rape makes me feel small. Child rape makes me feel small. Fragile.

     Frail. My feet are bird feet. Cannot run. Bird hands cannot 

     produce anything to eat only seed. Peanut butter seed. I can

     only think of the faded grass under the leaves of my shoes.

     Dampness and semen seep into the lining of my trench coat.

     At the back of my throat there’s there pressure of an indentation. 

Pushcart Prize nominated for her fiction “Wash Away My Sins” Abigail

George is a Port Elizabeth-based blogger at Goodreads and Piker Press,

essayist, poet, playwright, grant, novella and short story writer. She

briefly studied film at the Newtown Film and Television School in

Johannesburg. Her writing has appeared in many anthologies. She is the

recipient of writing grants from the National Arts Council in

Johannesburg, the Centre for the Book in Cape Town and ECPACC (Eastern

Cape Provincial Arts and Culture Council) in East London. Her writing

has appeared numerous times in print in South Africa, in various

anthologies, and online in e-zines based across Africa, Asia,

Australia, Europe, Ireland, and the United States.