Abigail George, Poems for Joop Bersee

I fear, I fear, I fear spinsterhood

I love her but for the life of me I don’t understand
her. Her butchering of my heart. Her silencing of
my voice. Tell me, what is the cure for the cutting
of these chords. I think of the glare of day in this
room. That I am like a forsaken cripple. The mad one.

The lunatic. The black sheep of the family. I know
her so well. Her wailing and laughter. Her barefoot
and absolutely useless at loving me so perfectly. There’s a
museum in her brown eyes. She smells like a bunch

of roses. I’ve never drunk wine in Paris. I haven’t had a
daughter or a son if you want to know. Never put
down roots, settled down and married someone suitable.
I’ve been falling all over the place for both men and
women. They say I’m insane and sane. I’m not a kept

woman at all. Just lonely. All day long I glimpse the
happiness of others. Of my sister, while I live in fear, in
fear, in fear of spinsterhood. Don’t forget all of me, I
whisper afraid. Rain falls while I try to read the wind.

Upstairs

I’ve been chaste and invalid for over twenty years
now. Caught drowning in this dark. There’s all the
worship of gulls, swimming overhead at the ocean.
I’m learning not to fight this life. Once I was in love
with you, now I’m not so sure why I was so quick
to call it love. Maybe I was more in love with all of

your applause. Your manic depression nation. Knowledge
is all that I have. I’m left standing at the pulpit.
I’ve received lectures from psychiatrists in another
life. Minister, here everyone is beautiful, sad and
preoccupied. Here everyone is mad. After all, this
is a mental hospital. That nurse, she’s a bully. That

patient is an antique. Yes, he’s been here that long.
Life here is elegant. We share a kind of intimacy
with each other. The intimacy of lovers. Madness
is a science. We’re all as grumpy as fish. I think of
my sister’s car. My sister’s house. Her car is like a
newlywed. Brand new off the lot. I have goo-goo

eyes because of the medication. I blame the sweet
disorder in my brain. The thyroid medication to be
exact. You were always my muse, you know. I want
to tell her this before she leaves for Prague. Her
leaving I know will be bittersweet. Here’s my mouth,
my grief. God lives upstairs. That much I know.

Another year, another summer holiday

I’ll sit and watch you burn forever or until
hell freezes over. Your metamorphosis my
sole consolation. I mourn the passing away
of your narrative, your leaping context. Your
photosynthesis. Nothing can stop the grief
I’ve married. You’re the one miracle. The door
is a comet. Hunger works just as well as any

key. Here are books to read. An education for
you on philosophy, literature, psychology.
I swim towards the virgin bride of daylight.
Night is her significant other. I am an empty
vessel in artificial light. The bride makes a
beautiful thief. All I have are all of these flaws.
These spells. These clothes. This iron that flows

through my veins. These dogs. This rage.
This insanity. Do I move you? Yes. A yes
but a hesitant yes. Do I thrill you even just a
tiny bit perhaps? Another yes. I am the divine
feminine. Your city is a city of wonder.
Covered with a film of dirt. Rubbish in the streets.
All of me dances for all of you. I dance slow

and easy. You believe in fast love. I’m glad
that I believe in wounds, hurts and scar tissue.
That it will make us triumphant in the end.
Your spirit is perfect. In Christ everything is perfect.
The same ghosts from last year are catching
up to me. You’re a puritan-voyager. I’m pilgrim.
You’re dreaming. I’m a crook. You’re

hateful. I’m bruised. Your imperfections are
perfect. I believe in rituals, routine and order.
I desire fertility. To birth children and novels.
I think of the bride in all her loveliness with
her suitcase packed for her honeymoon. I think
of the spinster, who does she inspire? Her
rivals are the naked girls in magazines. Music.
Shame.

Standing the test of time like Paris

For my beloved paradise in this
thin season build me from the ground
up. Here is thread to join artery, vein,
platelet, mitochondria. Faith to the good
moon and back. My beloved paradise
covers the ancient radii and diameter of
the sun. You’re the only near-perfect
thing that keeps me sane. Wasp, dragonfly,
raging against the machine moth, and

butterfly mate perfectly. I will
decorate complex-bandit-you at Christmas with
a pink inferno and hellfire. Here is
my petal mouth, cement toes. Here is
my rusty heart beloved. I’m drunk. You’re
drunk. I’m on fire for you but you’re cool.
You’re as cool as lettuce. Ice particles
sticking to it at the back of the fridge. Song
must shine. Bone must calcify (stick).
Macbeth must have his lady. Relationships

are meant to be treasured. The wife
inside of me is dead. I can hear myself
think beside the roar of this sea. Here
are the hardboiled egg sandwiches for
our picnic Oedipus Rex, Homer, and
Achilles. All of death and all of life must co-exist.
Come and sit at the table, Elijah, Job,
Elisha, Moses, Jeremiah. Plato and
Aristotle are standing at attention. Doing
us proud. You don’t see me. You don’t.

Abigail George has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize (with her work of fiction Wash Away My Sins) and her writing has appeared numerous times in print in South Africa, in various anthologies, and in various e-zines worldwide. She is the writer of eight books including essays, life writing, memoir pieces, novellas, poetry, and a self-published story collection.

Abigail lives, works, and is inspired by the people and mountains of the Eastern Cape of South Africa. She is the author of the poetry collections Africa Where Art Thou (Drum Beat Media, 2011) and Feeding the Beasts (Drum Beat Media, 2012), and the short story collection Winter in Johannesburg (Drum Beat Media, 2013).

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