By Abigail George
Some good advice for a young poet
Write what you remember. Don’t
forget to write what you remember.
Remember that you’re the flesh
and spangled night of the African Renaissance.
The heartache of my soul. You’re
driftwood and music that numbs
Deadens the noise inside my
head. Life, the solitude of death,
poems falling apart like the layers
of an onion or a citrus peel or the
green stripe of an apple. Emptiness in
that dark space of night. Dogs kicking
up dust. In my hands you will
always be an artist that sees both
the sacred and the good in others.
I never stop believing that sometimes
the story starts with a flashback, in
the middle or it has a new beginning
at the end of a story. Don’t forget
that the bullies were rough. Don’t
forget about the tragic events that
played out in your life. Don’t forget
that tragedy can hit you at any time and
in the event of war sacrifices must
always be made.
The bullies were tough on the playground of my childhood
Every night in homes
across this town I imagine
those same insolent
bullies settling down into the comfort of their
married life. I feel like
a ghost. In my own home
I feel like some kind of
invited guest. My parents
bordering on the world
of the elderly. The infirm.
It’s winter and the night
is charged with electricity.
I look at their open faces filled
with vulnerability. Lines
at the corners of
their eyes and mouths and
wrinkles on their faces and hands.
I think to myself that sadness
has such a gentle landscape.
Abigail George is a South African poet and short story writer who
briefly studied film at the Newtown Film and Television School in
Johannesburg. Her short story “Wash Away My Sins” was nominated for
the Pushcart Prize and she is the recipient of two writing grants from
the National Arts Council in Johannesburg, another from the Centre for
the Book in Cape Town, and one from ECPACC in East London. Her poetry
has been widely published in print in South Africa and online in
Australia, Nigeria, Finland, India, and Turkey.