The English Teacher

I think of the symmetry of his mouth.
The perfect chemical purity of it that tasted of salt and light.
His everlasting darkness plunged head first into light.
And this introvert’s intelligence, his mole-game, his boots,
His poison weed, second. I think of his wink
And his smile, his girls, his women in the office space.
His being. His humanity. His coding. And how I stalked him.
How he taught me that nothing in love was insignificant.
How I worshipped him from afar and how I loved him,
This creature hunting him down until the day came
That he wounded me. Gosh, how he reminded me

Of Hemingway. His words were thorns. My Macbeth
Night and day. My Nazi and Jew. He was my meat and potatoes
For a year. My torch. My burning candle. The network
Of my constant craving. My blood just had to have him.
He put me into a trance and towered over me. Such radiance.
His eyes. His eyes. Eyes like slits. Then eyes like snake eyes.
Guilt, guilt, guilt is mine. My possession. Now all day and all night
He lurks like a white lion. I am his shadow. I pace.
I think criminal thoughts. I am his shroud. He strides.
I am his cool sacrifice. He leaps. I am a vision in a sackcloth.
With dust and ash in my wet hair I am the drowning visitor

In the river where the fish lap and surf at my heels.
I am beautiful now that my ancestors have surrounded me.
There is an empty seat waiting to be filled but he is gone.
It burns me still. Love squandered. Love unreciprocated.
His voice assaults my ears. Brutality is the name of the game.
Not love. Not love. But I wake up and the sun still shines.
Years go by. At night the moon licks them. Peter Pan flies.
Anne Sexton sits behind the wheel of her car, the key
In the ignition. Ingrid steps into the lake-sea alongside Virginia.
My cat is dead, mauled to death and I am dead too in a way,
Mauled to death by one man. Look at me. My revenge is quiet.

Vietnam, Iraq. Iraq, Sarajevo. Rwanda, Burundi. Syria, Egypt.
Child soldiers marching like matchstick men with their guns, their berets
And ammunition. And I speak of this because it is winter in Africa.
In the African continent. Every child and woman a winter guest
In a season revisited every year like cuckoo-clockwork. Madness,
Hysteria, paranoia, hunger, alienation, refugee status, xenophobia.
Whatever happened to actual love and the imagination of it all?
I am every woman. Every man. Every child on this continent.
For those who cannot speak I speak for them. It’s a downpour out there.

Abigail George is a Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominated South African essayist, poet, short story writer, and novelist.

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