Voice be silent. Your blood will speak for us of blessing.
The air is still. The air is still. It is waiting for me to say
something. Say something to acknowledge the clouds gathering.
This is what grown up people do. They play house. Have
those children to walk in their footsteps. Mother and father
are two damaged people, who, when put together make a
whole. Thirst is a fragment on a page. I saw his face in a
magazine. He whispered sweet nothings to me. This is the
domain of sodden love. Glass the light, and there’s freedom
in being the custodian of the echo. There’s a new apartheid.
The politics of gender, the role of women, the perspective
of men. Where these three intersect. The song in the barn
is of the harvest wind. I go to make a place there for early
afternoon. The tourist finds pleasure in the ruins. The frog
in my throat is stale. The fragile owl blinks at my cavernous
despair, all the tragic events in my life. My tears are silent as
the false enchantment of good health in nightfall. I was given
a glimpse into war every night in childhood. Breathing in
ice in the lungs like therapy. Expressions from a family picnic
are the silent threat. Here is a cook for every season at the
funeral. For the very brave who go ballooning, there’s a
feast of vertigo to wash away their sins, the drought of words
in a journal. I am not all of these disabled things. I am the
sum of life, the turning point harnessed to the prize of
bone, the fabric of skin between your ears. There’s the ballad
of Sarajevo knitted together in my soul. Sticky fruit in the
hands of children. The qualities of a young mother. Here
are transitional solutions in a whiskey in a sad café. I am
twelve monkeys in a zoo hospital waiting for the analyst to
appear and put on a show. My father has buried me beneath a
pit of sand so deep he cannot find me now. I am invisible
to him. Lest we forget, time is longer than rope. My father is
the rope telling me that I am not enough. My mother marks
time by telling the doctor that my voices are amplified now,
and that they come from God. Guess then, I am Karin Boye
reborn. I can’t live like this anymore, I can’t wait for the death
of this museum. I am Swedish poet and novelist reborn on
cobblestone street. I have to learn how to forgive all over.
They wish to erase me from their lives, as if I have never
existed there. They wish to eat me, kill me, skin me. I don’t
think I can take much more of this not loving, not accepting.
They stand at the gap and wait for me, to decipher me out,
break me into code. For lack of mother love, so old-fashioned,
right, but yet it happens. There’s the disability like the sun,
like a sunrise. There’s the subject of it like a sunset. Nothing
stands in its way of being the topic of conversation. The poet
questions. Always questions. I am the girl who stares, but
never talks. Stares off into the distance of the land that was
once her childhood, the land that was her inseparable sibling,
another daughter now out of the picture, into the European-
bloom. I wish I could forgive. I do, I do, I do. But in this
environment I stand surrounded by the sea. Little hope does
it offer me in the way of life. I think of the prophecy of angels.
I am the woman who ate everything. Yes, I told you about
that understanding that concerns the beautiful, and the woman,
the girl, who isn’t. The beautiful are worshiped and adored.
The sad are not. The tormented are not. The helpless are not
often helped. They are despised for their failure to even appear
to be happy. They are asked repeatedly to appear in front of
a social worker. And the rain comes from another era, and then
there’s another war, and in love another deception, and then
another morning passing into daylight, passing into afternoon,
passing into evening. I am the point of no return on canvas.
I am both fragile and strong. Permitted to weather storms, but
not to love. You are that bear of a man standing there drinking
up a storm in your mental illness. I am the woman of the lake
glorifying everything about illness, even though it is a broken
record player, I hit the repeat button. I go on and on and on.
Darkness appears, as it always does. Nightfall appears, as it always
does. I am calm. I am calm. And even though you wound me,
I will still love you. Even though you cut me with a razor blade,
I will still love you. Even though you are silent, in the flood of
my messages, I will still love you for as long as I am alive, as I
have breath, this zoo will still find the straw in the grave through
the eye of the needle. And this womb is so dangerously ambiguous.
I am a lampshade, waiting to hear your footfall on the stair.
Abigail George is a Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominated South African essayist, poet, short story writer, and novelist.