••• The International Writers Magazine - Our 20th Year: Life Moments
First Love, Paradise, Tenderness and Vertigo
"Traitor, doubting Thomas and the female version of Judas Iscariot, you’ve been a naughty girl. You’re such a naughty girl. I work like a slave for you and this is the thanks I get. I give you everything, everything. I adore and worship you. I praise you. I love you flying to the moon and back. I’d pull down the planets for you, the stars for you if I thought that it would rehabilitate you in some way. As if it would bring you back to us, your family circle. I knew in my heart of hearts that he was destined for hell. I can’t stand crowded places. I can’t stand being alone either. I can’t stand your love affairs Jerome. Your one night stands, the booze talking, the gospel truths coming out of your mouth, and your orange or pineapple juice laced with vodka.
"I’m writing this down so that you remember how much you hurt me, and how much I couldn’t stand the pain after years of it. You don’t love me anymore. You did once. I wanted to say it was a crime. That all the yelling and screaming and shrieking and cursing were a crime, but better the devil you know. I wanted to be beautiful like the sea. Now I’m just ancient and a ruined spinster pretending that I’m not a fake and a poser like you. I still love but I’m a kid in your kingdom. I’m a spinster-kid (not a real woman in your eyes). I’m a dismal failure. You win, win, and win even when you’re breaking hearts like James Franco, Nick Laird or Brad Pitt but I’ve never been jealous of you. How can I be jealous of the person, the enzyme, the catalyst that I love most in the world? I’m crazy for you."
Jerome Dean Botha was high, smoking a cigarette after the fat joint he had just savoured. He was sitting on the park bench that his mother had inherited from her mother-in-law in the garden (which was really the backyard). He wasn’t short. He wasn’t tall. He had a high forehead, and cut a suave figure in his tight-fitting jeans and hooded jacket. He looked like his mother. In her sixties now she was still beautiful. He was intense, morose, and miserable that this was what his life had come to. All he seemed to do was get high all the time. These days that was all he did, that, and getting into his mother’s face. He was growing weed in the yard. He showed it off to his sister, like his winnings at roulette at the Boardwalk casino. When I think of my brother Jerome, with all his vigour, vitality, health I think now of my only loves.
I think of all the men who circled the country of my bone and flesh. I think of my first love with vertigo shooting through me. I think of me as the innocent in that equation. Think of my relationship with the Sussex-man. I think of how my own brother now plays and toys with the feelings and emotions of these young women who give their love freely, expecting everything in return, marriage, future children, future sessions of furtive lovemaking in the backseat of my mother’s car. Jerome was an angel. He emerged intact on impact. J.D. was the Amazon. J.D. was the Andes. I thought of these girls as helpless grains. They comforted him in ways and means I could not, that no mother-loving could. I think nothing of my sister. Our days of being inseparable are over. She is posing as a European, living a European-lifestyle with her fluffy dogs and her fluffy life and her fluffy yellow hair. She is all too complex for me.
J.D. hid his condoms in plain sight. In his leather wallet, in the drawers of the desk he had inherited from his educationalist-principal father, in his wardrobe. His secrets were both hidden and left breathing the same air we did. Then there was the pornographic material. Nude pictures of women posing with women, women posing with men, women riding men hard, men rubbing their woman’s nipples and clitoris hard, all in this show of his masculinity at play and work shocked me at first, but his dominance, his sexuality, over other lesser men made the women in his life love and adore him even more. I would think of his sensual lips, his sexual appetite that knew no limits or borders or boundaries. He walked around with tits and ass pictures of his conquests. I think he did it to shock our mother too. Yes, J.D. Botha was a sensualist.
But he was a romantic at heart too (he had been in love many times, doesn’t that make a man, any man a romantic), he was a dreamer, a healing psychiatrist to me, an inventor, a financial planner in another life. I would think of his hands, dirt under his fingernails gliding over a woman’s bosoms, her ‘melons’ as he would call them when we driving around in our mother’s car running errands to mostly provoke a reaction from me. I thought of his sex drive, the sexual desire that enflamed him, the sex stimulus as being separate from himself but it was tangled in the relationship he had with me, with his mother as if he had a point to make. He wasn’t searching for love, looking for it in the most obvious places, disco-clubs and church. My mother was always telling him to find a nice, ‘clean’ (whatever that means, emphasis on her cleanliness, that on her wedding night she would be touched for the very first time) church girl.
“Hey, sexy legs, sexy thighs I’m talking to you. Put a smile on that dial. Turn that frown upside down. I’m only trying to get you to chill. You think too much.”
I’m ignoring you. I’m ignoring you. I put the sugar, some milk, coffee creamer and coffee into the mugs, pour the boiling water into the mugs, and stir. I walk to the TV room, hand one mug to my father, while sipping the hot coffee from my own cup. I think that you know you tore my heart open, and that I was left vulnerable. I knew nothing about what men desired, what a man wanted in bed, but you make a fool out of women, in much the same way I was once in my early twenties. You will love. Jerome Dean Botha will love. I know that. You will love and tire of loving until your entire existence goes kaput. Silence was both slave and master for me, like I knew the marijuana was for him. He couldn’t live without that high now, and there was a part of me that stopped caring about what other people would think about us.
My mother was your mother and my father was your father. Our mother had difficulty in adjusting to raising children. We were fed formula. Maybe that’s why we’re cracked upstairs. You say it’s because of her that you can’t settle down. That that is the reason you can’t meet a woman that can make an honest man out of you. I say it’s because of her that we share this, this ‘trait’. This stubbornness that defies her will at every turn. I live through Jerome Dean Botha. I live through each of his women. I know all about their yearning. Years ago in Johannesburg, as a journalism student I knew their yearning to have the ‘all’ of the lover. The shock of him half-dressed entering me, the warmth of his lips on the nape of my neck, or my hands, the warmth of his lips on mine, me needing him unselfishly, him needing me but selfishly. I only understand desire now through the eyes of my brother. Merely a need, as eating is when you’re hungry, or humanity needing oxygen to live, or writers writing cloaked in revenge.
And I would wonder afterwards as he (the ultimate lover of all lovers) slept beside me only to wake in the dawn, or the early hours of the morning, I would wonder what he had thought of me, my inexperienced lovemaking, was he thinking of perhaps the other women he had been with. His peccadilloes, as my father would say. The rascal, as my father would say. I would be doll and slave and play the role of virgin or have this victim-mentality showing itself to me in flashbacks as amorous scenes would be played out in the dark. Of course, it is only in retrospect that you understand what it truly means to be a woman, what it means to give and receive pleasure, what it means to be desired, conquered, give up and take the ‘all’ of the lover to task if he does not say he loves you, or he does not say that he enjoys your company. I knew what it was to give up my virginity and be told that you are loved. I knew what ideas played out in Jerome Dean Botha’s ladies of the night, and his cinematic-ladies because they had played out in my own mind.
If I wrote a rain poem the rain would say, ‘Here I am. Like an eagle I can go on living forever, hanging onto the moon, the sun, other stars playing witness to the human spark walking on the abalone streets and summer, spring, autumn, winter pavements. The rain says, ‘I am love.’ The rain says, ‘I am a bridge.’ The rain says, ‘All I want is to go away into the world. Resurrect days and count them. Feel the wind where the earth meets sky. I want to sing, and dance covered in layers of moths, butterflies, insects, fish, and the rapture of humanity’s trysts. I want to kiss men, women and children and like a satellite I will orbit this world. Rain likes the winter pollen of flowers, fleece, mist, bees, tears, gardens, fields.’ Still Jerome’s laughter haunted me like our portraits from childhood in photographs. It haunted me, the shaking-trembling-fearful me that I have now become, leaving thirty-something behind..
The language of rain whenever its physical is magnified says that it’s a nomad filled with heart and heartlessness. Rain says she is as ancient as ritual, heritage, and tradition and as ancient as the wedding, birthing, and christening ceremony. Rain is as ancient as the man in the sky that lives on the moon. She wears a veil, a garment, a shroud, a hood like driftwood. Jerome, or J.D. Botha as you’ll always be known to me now, this sinister and suspiciously deceitful, morally bankrupt persona that you have taken on now, you’re winter’s bone. ‘I will sing. I will dance,’ and rain will say, will whisper to me, “You will worship me.” And when the highs and lows of manic depression come upon me like the sea, or riptide, or current spilling over onto the shoreline, you’re familiar.
Sussex-man you’re sorrow and ignorance. You’re bittersweet. Your hands and psyche once skilled are abandoned and are ancient now. You don’t need to be an athlete anymore. Your heart is a plum made of obstinate warmth. Inside your voice is a cave, Sussex-man and this cave is filled with Noah’s animals. Your touch is fathoming. Your breath vast as a sky falling into a river and your darkness and light measured by looks, silence, routes, paradise. It is daylight when we finally venture out and find ourselves at the flea market. On a Saturday morning there is a nation of a waterfall of a landscape of flesh, ink and blood in a stern and psychic city filling its inhabitants.
Its beauty is electric. You’re a ghost now found at the end of a tunnel. Still wise Jerome. You’re still trustworthy Jerome to some. You’re dead to this world but not eternity. I’m familiar with silence. I’m familiar with silence circumventing the frailty of wind. A silence specifying the infirm, the silence in a waiting room, the silence of small children after they’ve been given a warning and the silence found in autumn crevices. The times it has come to me has been in times of loneliness like the highs and lows of manic depression, the highs and lows of writing poetry when I have promised solitude, death, and decay that I will illuminate them. Fire them up before walking away from them.
The high flight of a wind in winter wired to the ransom of night and the carrying of leaves little by little across the cloths of a winter tapestry. Mother’s hands breathe anonymity and fire over her cubs. Fire, I said. Open your eyes for aren’t they the windows to your soul. You have a lovely mind. When it faces despair and hardship it is still beautiful. It is like the wind. Jerome Dean Botha, you’re just a puff, a gust of wind holding, clinging onto, embracing oneness and sameness onto breath. You’re the same, the same when it is tired of this world and in need of a cure. Its dazzle is still staggering.
Let’s not do away with film and entertainment somehow just, just because you’re a part of it, Sussex-man. Let’s not do away with the winter so we can’t feel the cold anymore. Let’s not do away with the memory of you while we’re at it because you’re a reminder of sweetness. Of how sweet life can be. My hair is tangled like wildflowers found in a field. I am standing in a doorway with the child on my hip after eating a fish supper. Far away I imagine that the ocean is lit up by stars. Trucks pass by my house daily on the highway and then I think of you. Prague. I think of your Prague, and your Thailand, your version of New York and your India. I think of your version of Bali and Singapore.
I think of you sister, a daughter, and a magnificent lover emerging as another world. I think of how you hatched your escape plan and found the exit out.
© Abigail George August 2019
abigailgeorge79 at gmail.com
“What’s your name, angel?”
“Whatever you want it to be, sir? You looking for companionship?”
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