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.