I don’t want to live quietly anymore

(for my paternal grandparents)

This is not a suicide note to remind the cruel world
about me, about my name. The boy with the dark
hair has already moved on with his life and forgotten
all about me, and oh, did I forget to say that nobody
loves me, that I’m a gifted stranger to most boys, and
mostly men, older men, with beautiful wives and them
children, their children. And of course, because of
my endometriosis I cannot have children. Love me,
I’m difficult. Hate me, I’ll submit. I’ll do your bidding.
The bathwater is cold, but I wash his back in circles.
I promise I’ll only talk about the abuse if you’re bad

to me. I’m some kind of chef too. I keep marking time,
score after score after score, drawing up lists, ingredients,
because life is an adventure, and I’m lovesick and all
alone. If you give me all your affection and support,
I promise I’ll keep my distance, and I promise I won’t
make a scene, or talk about my auditory hallucinations.
All you have to do is bake half-truths, tell me ochre, that
you’re fond of me, that you love me, that you’ll go
quietly, and then I won’t speak about death to you, won’t
speak about death, not wanting to live quietly-cute.
You are in my blood, and I am in your blood. I sigh,

I cry, I’ll watch you leave, I’ll watch you say goodbye.
You’re gone, you’re gone, some kind of unkind, gone.
You are body and mind and mine and nothing short
of a walking and talking and armed miracle, you
have my heart, you have my brilliant, brilliant heart.
Now we don’t write and we don’t even talk. Now we
have absolutely nothing to say to each other. Once we
were lovers, once we were friends, and sometimes,
just sometimes I used to say to you, “Let’s get married.”
You always thought I was wise, sweet and innocent.
Always told me that you weren’t the marrying kind.

South African Abigail George has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize (“Wash Away My Sins”), and Best of the Net award (“Secrets”). She is a blogger, editor, filmmaker, playwright, poet, essayist, chapbook, novella, grant, and short story writer. She briefly studied film in Johannesburg. She was educated in Port Elizabeth, and Swaziland. Her latest book is The Scholarship Girl: Life Writing. She is the poetry editor of African Writer, and an editor at Mwanaka Media and Publishing. She writes op-ed pieces for local newspapers, and is a columnist for a national travel magazine.

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