••• The International Writers Magazine - Our 20th Year: Dreamscapes
Leaves that talk
I think of fruit, good olive oil, pasta, and tuna casseroles when I think of her name. I think of overripe tomatoes perfect for sauce. Of just how much I loved you, and how you never loved me back. I chose writing, and you chose pilgrimage. You chose to travel to exotic places never sending me a postcard from any of those places you travelled to. My hands are in frozen chicken pieces in brine. My hands, fingers are stiff with cold to the bone. I’m going to grill this chicken. The streets are breathing after the rain while I inhale, and exhale, this intellectual black sheep. Autumn leaves outside my window. You’re not here. I wish you were here. I wish you weren’t here.
Yes, I was always difficult to love, and the writing is still an experiment. I’m reading this book by Don Mattera. I want to know my purpose, my identity, my heritage, where I come from. I’m more than of mixed-race descent. You taught me that. You taught me to pray. You taught me to pray for a publisher for my manuscript. You taught me many things. You taught me to sow the seed for meaningful relationships, and how to multiply that seed. You taught me to hope for my name to be known in every home, to reach for the wise stars, the ardent divine. I don’t remember the colour of your eyes anymore (I wonder if they were green or brown). I only remember the weakness in you. Only that you loved all of me for a brief summer.
The sun always shines on television and the Americans are always eating red spaghetti. Discern, discern, discern please between your goals and dreams. I can’t take my eyes off you.
I can’t take my eyes off your works of flesh, of prize and lit award. The wise will hear. So will the foolish girls. And the night sky begins to fall. As it falls outside I watch a documentary with my father who is in the autumn of his years. “Tea is better than sex,” said the Indian woman on the television screen. It was a documentary, and she was travelling to Nepal to build wells. It was a documentary series on strong, independent women who had their own money. It documented the lives of women with their own rooms with views to the sea, or a garden, suburbia, or city-life traffic, and buildings, and motorcars.
And then I thought of Emily Dickinson, and what she would say about tea, and intimacy, and the transaction of having her cake and eating it too, every rigour of stimulus, and impulse of trouble at home, and I smiled, and then laughed thinking of her loss, and my loss, her frustration, and mine. Always longing to belong to be the one rose in the courtyard in bloom like the heavens, inheriting the wolf’s flock, inheriting the wolf’s religion, Sexton’s, and Kipling’s poems too, and I thought of this waiting dance of husband and wife that I knew nothing of. A universe filled with hungry children demanding to be fed, the healing powers of whiskey, hungry souls longing for a healing room. I go still. Think of Hepburn, and Monroe.
James Dean. Jenny Zhang. Osip Mandelstam.
Dorothea Lasky, and how I continually find the source of the Nile, the beginning of love, the end of our love whenever I am reading Russians, or, modern-day poets. And then I come to rapture and shelter, abandonment and neglect at the hands of a mostly detached mother. one was as sheltered as me. No one was as shattered as me. In photographs you’re brighter than sunshine. I try to live without you but all I realise is the future of first love. I realise the depths of the history of seawater and that I’m breaking my heart again. I’ve seen you pull away from me. I thought that we’d only know this in the future. Little birds build the world they want. Agriculture reminds me that everything and nothing dies a natural death, even innocence. You’re all tender when you want to be.
When you hate, I become like the bleak light in a cell wall and you’re the surgeon’s glove. When I feel I’m losing you, I’m dazed. I’m swept away at the water’s edge. You lead me to the commonwealth of the burning road, the waterfall and the tear in my heart. I tell myself this time you’ll catch me. This time you’ll search for me like driftwood at the beach. You’ll find me there like a fantasy, I tell myself, if you decide to fall to meet me. You’re the mystery like snow in fog. We sang ‘walk like an Egyptian’. We danced to The Bangles. We grew up Christian but you don’t pray anymore or think that anything is holy. You’re the material girl now. You’re gone. You don’t phone. You don’t visit. You’ve gone cold. You’re set around me like confetti.
I came upon the sun one day but you were no longer around to see it glow. I listen to Coldplay and pretend you’re still around. Still pretend you love me. The sea does not glitter anymore like it used to. You don’t come home for Christmas. You only talk to our mother. Prague is your future. I plant tomatoes and basil. Your nephew plucks snails off of plants. Eats green gooseberries. He didn’t want to talk to you when you telephoned on Tuesday afternoon driving to boot-camp after work. You remind me that I need to cheer up. You remind me that I chose this life. And I think that perhaps it’s my fault that we’ve become strangers over the years. We’re strangers. Strangers!
They take long walks. Love cathedrals. The cloud people have a certain air to them. The world will go on as if I was never here. I don’t know how I feel about ‘It’. The ‘It’ stretches space and time and the harvest of my imagination far and wide. I need daylight, Catholicism, love yet I cannot speak of it. I do not have those kids. That play swimming pool. From my Facebook pages I begun to un-friend people I hadn’t ever spoken to. I felt I needed to do that. I felt the need to assert myself. I felt the need to unlock that door. I am 38 and I am still dying to belong. I sat in the quietness of my bedroom (my soul evaporated). See even the roses have thorns. All I can see is people on the other side of the world. Last week was a good week. I dreamed of love.
I dreamt myself up a costume, performance, preludes and aspects of love, paradise, a school of adored music into a good man who will hopefully become a husband. (Of course, I had hoped to break the curse of Hiroshima in my own life. Have children, once; once.) Names to me, keys to open doors have become like important dates in history. The territories and borders of Christianity are like keys to me. They have a way of letting me into a sleepy faraway city while Rapunzel was letting down her hair. I live with my parents (that makes me a little girl again). My father is an elderly, infirm bat-bird of a man, a forgetful man and my mother a strapping deaf woman in her mid-sixties. I’m not making love anymore.
You brother, and you father, and you mother are perfect for your assignment. I don’t want to be a mistake but you see I am a mistake. I am driftwood and chaos caught in a flux. I am forgotten not by children but by parents. A mother who is not proud of what I have become (a hungry poet). There’s a father in the picture who I love, adore, admire and am very much in awe of. All I have left are fragments of the Sussex man. Once I lived and breathed for him. He was of course this no ordinary man. Once I lived for shoes and dresses. Believed they had supporting roles to play in life. I was a lonely girl who has become a lonely woman. Today’s sky is a blue storm of atoms and fragments and in those particles I can see an image of the riot of the sun. I can see, trace the face of the man I loved once.
The aesthetically pleasing woman I once was. Journeying through an autumn night valentine on my heart the mirror takes a look at my creature face in the bathroom mirror. I smile. I smile. I smile (while I think of autumn) because it makes it better like butter. Butter makes everything tastier. It hides the sadness (look at what you have done to me) that you bring out in me. You wound me. You hurt me. You don’t see my tears. I’m writing to reach you with winter in my veins. Night falls. Stars are pasted in the ceiling of the sky. Day breaks. You’re not here in this game of love. You’re a million miles and international flights away. You’re in Prague, then Austria, then Budapest-country and then, finally, you land up in Slovenia.
I lose track. You never call. You’re too busy tramping up streets. You’re sashaying down streets. You’re ‘living’ (a pastime that few people have the audacity to have or experience). You’re walking. Eating, drinking bottled European beer and posting pictures on social media. Your trips were always epic. I’m left writing to reach you surrounded by mountain lions, elephants and tigers. Kipling’s The Jungle Book come to life. We’ve both come to know how love can hurt. I’m becoming enlightened daily by our brother’s son. I see that we’re not close anymore. Who is at fault? I blame our mother. The different schools’ we went to. You, of course, were popular in your own way. You had friends who played hockey and were blonde. You wear blonde highlights in your hair now. Now I see a vision of you.
This vision passes. I think of you with longing in my heart. One future-day we won’t be young anymore. We won’t have our mother to protect us. You live in another world. I live in another universe. It feels like things are slipping away like the rewards of arrows. Morning is slipping away into sad laughter. Feels like mourning this distance between us. I think of your shadow. I think of your shadow stepping out amongst the shadows of other beautiful women. I think of illumination. I think of your illumination (and my trembling heart). I think of Sundays, holding earth in my cupped hand ready to receive everything it will give me, making a fist and ochre. I think of Sundays and golden afternoons.
I marvel that once you belonged to me. Now you’re cold and distant and you turn away from me. The status of our relationship is sad. I wanted to write a sonnet or novelette but I wrote this for you instead. And I try not to think of that night and all the sad men you kissed. I think of landmines going off, your denim jacket hanging over a chair or in your wardrobe and I think of you, or, I think of your expensive French designer perfume that fills the air when you’re in the room. I think of war, famine, flood, disaster, and I think of you. I think of you and I know I’ll never love again. Think of when I was in your arms and how I wanted to stay there forever. I think of driving in your car diving into a fever. There was a time to dance in this love field. Our expectations were obsessive that Saturday.
Mother’s face wore a defeated expression. Her vanity retreated for now. I sit there as around me families ‘barbecue’ (a word as foreign to me as my sister’s Prague) at Shepherd’s Field. I think of the rough and tumble of Jean Rhys’ Dominican sea. I think of God, the super-natural wonder of my brother, the holy. The dark. The farm (Shepherd’s Field) had goats, ducks, geese, pigs, dogs. There are three greenhouses on the property, (one filled with carrots and basil, my brother showed us). The others filled with flowers. He didn’t show us the other two. He must have thought perhaps that we’d lose interest. We took a long walk. Everything was green like my brother’s fingers.
We ate sticky ribs and barbecue chicken wings, munched on cucumber and apple slices, and didn’t talk about our flaws, recipes for perfection, an ingredient list for taking him on. This made my brother angry. I could see it in the tension written on his face. (The rehab facility was a farm was called Shepherd’s Field. It’s summer but inside all of us it’s raining the worries of a frozen sea. When we come home in the late afternoon I leave my steak roll on the plate uneaten. We all sit in a dark house to match our mood, I guess. Later, we’ll warm the spaghetti through on the stove and eat leftovers before it spoils. All I see is his fondness for cocaine. White lines of powder. White powder cut up into lines with a credit card. I don’t grasp nor understand this fondness, this fascination, the numbing high and crushing low.
© Abigail George 19.2.19
abigailgeorge79 at gmail.com
Sessions with the Psychiatrist
Today, I thought about the things I would never forget in my life, people who swam out of my reach touching my fingertips. People like Carol M., Vincent, my mother and my sister.
When I consider how my breath is spent - Abigail George
Empty houses are like lava burning bright as any flame. Here, an empty soul is li