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The International Writers Magazine: Dreamscapes Life Moments

The Scrapbook
• Abigail George
Divinity: Teenage Infatuation and Pharmaceutical Junkie. We make a ritual out of it. Of saying evening prayers. It is absurd like flying a kite when there is no wind. I am in Ward 7. I am in the lock up ward to protect myself. Bars at the window just like in a Van Gogh painting.

running mascara

I making my mother’s mascara run. I want to wear her wedding band so I know she is coming back for me. This is the meaning of hardship. Did I say goodbye? Her shoulders hunched forward as if she is covering her small breasts. I touch my reflection in the mirror to see if it really is me. I touch my reflection to see if it is not a ghost. It is like chemotherapy. The chemicals in my brain. They buy me rings.

I put them on my fingers. They make me homesick. I kiss air. There are still the geography of waiting rooms for me. The thing is I do not have wishes. There are thousands of us. There are millions of us. They called it an asylum then. They called us lunatics then. Fed us cold porridge then. A lot of us took cold showers or cold baths. I hope that someday somebody will write this about me (the chemistry inside my head): Her madness was beautiful. It made her beautiful in a way. It made her eyes beautiful in a way too. Madness can happen to you anywhere. Drinking coffee, having a cigarette, oil on your hands. While you are drawing up your grocery list. Freedom can happen to you anywhere.

The street that you have walked up and down a million times before. Where everything is the same but also different. A leaf is an island, a blade of grass. Whitman’s leaves of grass. After dark, light speaks to me in different ways. After dark where darkness has spoken its dusty answers. Illness is company. Something came from the blue sky of my throat. People will come to take away your soul. Your mother, your father, doctors and nurses. They will take your blood pressure. Rainy music blots out the stain of the stars. Blots out the human stain called psychology. I loved the mountains and the hills. I loved the rain, the smell of the earth, the trees. I sit on my throne. They just want to ask me questions. These interiors speak to me. I want to tell them. I hope I sound intelligent. I am not too good with following instructions. They will not give me electroshock therapy as they did daddy.

The buildings seem to offer me sanctuary. I did not know then it was my Judas’s kiss. I grew fatter and fatter. It was the pharmaceuticals. The lack of exercise. I grew obese. With dolphin thighs (read that somewhere in a magazine). There is no farewell when I leave. I did not make that many friends. Did not eat with anyone in the canteen. I was on my own. I have always been on my own. Came into the world that way. When depression surfaces I feel small. Hell has depths and wards. I am not free to go for six months yet. When I go home, there is birthday cake. My hair is shorter. My brother says I look like a boy.

The scrapbook of a Khoi girl.

He is our workshop. His every delight is like a glass ceiling (we want it to last forever); every phrase has its own age of iron. Every gobbledegook that comes out of his mouth is another language. Sounds like Latin or Greek to me. He teaches us how primitive Americans really are. He teaches us about denial, bereavement counselling and lessons in grief. He does not stay with us for long. Sometimes he comes for a sleepover. This tyke is my metaphor, my abstract, my irony and my personification. He drinks tea like the rest of us. Sleeps like the rest of us. Experiences flatulence like the rest of us. Belches like the rest of us. He wets himself and we change him. All hands and breathless. He is my workshop. He is my moss. He is my life. He is my breath. He is my music school. My piano. My school desk. When I go to sleep, I dream of him. I dream of him sleeping like a baby. He is the room of my life. He is my field. He is my narrative. He is my text. He is my next poem and the one after that and the one after that. He is my skin. He is of me but he is also not of me. He is our scrapbook.

Perhaps one day he will be a scholar, a classicist, a writer, a poet, a teacher, somebody’s spiritual guru. Perhaps one day he will be a father. Perhaps one day he will be a husband and have children of his own in the world. I wonder at his continual transformation. My ritual. My feast. My celestial navigation. Boys grow up. They grow up to be anchors, hunters and warriors. Boys grow up fast. Workshops remain workshops. A workshop in progress. Our son is our workshop. Families are workshops in progress. Boy, you are a bird. Stay as long as a bird as you can. You had wings even in utero. In the womb you were beautifully formed the image of your father’s mother. You are a son. A workshop-in-progress under surveillance. Now you can dream about more than just the sea, or the clouds, or the paradise of heaven. Now you can dream about technology, loneliness and history. You can branch out when winter whispers sweet nothings in your ears, and you can touch the sheet of summer heat when you go swimming with your friends, see autumn in everything around you, the otherworldly shine of spring. You are our boy, heir to the throne. You are our workshop. This is your world, prince but one day you will still have chores to do.

Four Women Reading.

When I caught the world scratching like a hen at the backdoor I knew then what I needed. I needed spiritual longing and spiritual logic is what I wanted in my work. A pure idea but all my sonnets, my odes, my haiku, my poetry seemed to have a shattered sensibility about them. There was something wasteful about them. There was a wilderness about them. History going on strike or a protest march. I wanted people to be deeply impressed by my writing. I wanted to touch a life, touch intuition, a spirit, and a soul. These things mattered a great deal to me like my paternal grandmother’s hands but it was still a war out there. A war of words, against the intelligentsia, against intellectuals, writers, poets, artists, and a war of words against women, older women, younger women, intelligentsia, intellectuals, disabled writers and poets.

It is war. A global war. A global depression. A global recession. A global racism. A global prejudice. I choose these words. The masses give them power, so do poets. Infinity is loosely threading itself through these changes projecting these haunting landscapes across cities and countries. You will never be the same again after something has shattered your world of glass. You will never be the same again after you have wintered with glaciers. It is still a war out there. Farmers still farm though. They plough their fields and christen lambs. The charisma, style and technique of art, diplomacy, acts of terrorism and climate change are still out there.

I am a poet. What does that mean? How does that change anything in society? How does the climate change anything about the face of love or surveillance of the one you love or investigating the favourite haunts of the one that you love? In a room there are four women reading. They are all female poets. They are all modern female poets, which means that they are all probably feminists or confessional poets. They were all asked to write a poem about a war. The first poet wrote a poem about a female suicide bomber leaving her children behind. The second poet wrote a poem about ethnic cleansing. The third poet wrote about the Rwandan genocide.

The fourth poet wrote about rainbow children growing up in post-apartheid South Africa. Everybody clapped when the first three poems were read out-loud but after the fourth poem was read aloud, everybody got to their feet, cheered, and foot-stomped a bit. Before the reading they were told that were not to say anything that might upset the audience they were reading to. They were not to cause offence like mentioning the word ‘breast’ or ‘nudity’ or ‘genitals’ or the ‘reproductive system’ or ‘HIV/AIDS or ‘spear’ or ‘Khoi’ or ‘black, white or coloured or Asian’.
Then the first poet asked, ‘Would the words ‘woman’ be offensive or ‘innocent’ or ‘virginal’ or ‘suicide’ or ‘the bridge of death’?’
Then the second poet asked, ‘Which word was more appropriate than the next, ‘spouse’, ‘wife’ or ‘life partner’?
Then the third poet asked, ‘What was the matter with the words ‘lesbian’ and ‘homosexual’ if they were going to mention ‘heterosexuality’?’
Then the fourth female poet asked timidly, ‘What about ‘sex’, ‘disability’. The word ’confessional? Nobody said anything about those words yet. Are they not significant?’’

The dawn’s nerves. There is a gap in the moth smoke. It is war. (‘You are still a child. So do your washing before your young gentleman friend comes over’.) The German woman is doing her laundry. She is hanging up her brassieres and my stockings. It is still war. Underneath the linguistics of her doing her laundry, on the other side of the world there is the mother tongue in the click song. Hiroshima. There is a ladder. Farmworkers going back and forth from their work reminding me of Virginia Woolf, the River Ouse, Vita Sackville-West, nymphomaniac lesbian passion. Fat Boy. Little man. This kind of intelligence belong to Elijah, to Kubrick and to Capote. (Modern day). There is the English mouth of the Canadian English lecturer talking about a Gustav Klimt painting. There is a gap in the fence. The air smells like trains passing through. Urine town. A village of stone. A village of fragments. A village of brief lives leaving home for the first time never to return. Boys who will never dream of tractors and having their own farms.

I will make my way through it to you using only tunnel vision, towards the unified light. I will make my way to you where touch is war. The couple next door. We will call the hole in the floor the attic. There is a German couple making love. The air smells like rain and earth. Oblivion. The woman in the concentration camp is so tired that she wants to die. A girl writes. One day she will be famous for her diary. She writes in longer and longer sentences, as the war does not ever seem to end. I needed a theory for this war. I needed to speak in code for the warmongers. I needed an explanation for this war. I could not believe that there was a collective of people who voted this man into power. Powerful people, Jewish people, did not think that he would last but he did.

Infinity is what faith is. Infinity is where prodigies, children, grieving widows and mothers go to die. After war, you are never the same again. The air is never the same again. Something in the atmosphere has changed. The realm of possibilities. The sun has changed its position on the social cohesion of the planets. The moon has changed its currency that it deals with when it comes to the tides. To the ghosts of the oblivions and the wars that have come before Hiroshima and Nagasaki I say go back. Go back. There is nothing left for you here. The furious red beasts, the mystic she-devils are no longer dedicated or devoted to locking down the hearts of the ones who are still alive and compelled to do something about it.

To do something about the living. There is a war after all but borders shift all the time. It is war but borders shift all the time, sometimes at the same time. The German woman lights a cigarette. Her young man, her suitor thinks that Germany is still going to win the war. The German woman’s elderly and infirm mother coughs in the next room. She is under the impression that Germany is also going to win the war. She is also under the impression that this suitor on his afternoon visits to her daughter is going to marry her daughter but he has other plans. Tonight he is meeting his girlfriend, his fiancé at a dance. The German woman is older than her ‘suitor’ is. She is four years older than he is. She does not want to get married. She does not want to be stuck in a rut for the rest of her life. She does not want to have children.

© Abigail George March 2015
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Emperor Wolf
Abigail George

In the beginning, there was Emperor Wolf, Genesis, the family Golden. A voice in the first person. I, Tracy Golden crouched with the burden of the holidays and Christmas in my hands.

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