April 26, 2020

“Carson McCullers,” Poetry by Abigail George

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“Carson McCullers,” Poetry by Abigail George

Carson McCullers 

I will always love music, she said to me. Turned her  

face away and became a sad ghost like all the people 

that I have loved in my life. The sad ghost, dead snakes,  

the religious, the ordered hide mischief in plain sight.  

The geranium has a tongue and the sky appears to be  

falling. The moon walks wider now. It curls up. The  

red-haired sun does not know how to travel lightly in  

summer. She swoons. She will fall at your feet if you 

remove articles of your clothing. I travel light in these 

heavy years. Waving earlier to the good women who  

pass me by. With their white teeth and their sweet  

breath. Bread to the soul. And the wind is sunburnt from 

the form and shape of the river, to the whine of the dog.  

Through mountains fall childish things. If I perish, 

there will be signs of the Saviour’s return. It has often  

crossed my mind just for the fun of it, but where is the  

challenge in that if not to compound the negative, the  

silent psychological framework around the country of  

my tongue. What instead of pushing the envelope, I just 

concentrated on the arc of writing and perfecting crafting 

the perfect short story. And from hell to eternity, there 

is a memoir of madness. I read wildness in the headlines. 

The mining of diversity come with us welcoming the 

tigers and parading them at the zoo. In front of the ill  

winter sun’s fabric of bone tied to the soul of the universe. 

Sibling, the second daughter, Heidi in the mountains,  

     your arms are bare. They are like trees searching for the  

hidden flesh of a vulture that has all the culture in the  

world. With their lungs smiling with roots. I melt the  

blue sky. I remember your petals of blood. I remember 

your fire engine red lipstick. Oracle my wish is that the paper 

tiger empress takes her strange anguish to the ward, with  

all of her potential. I know how a heart can grow cold. 

I know you. You’re winter asleep in the back. And I dream  

of the goals I had in my twenties, oh, I only wanted to  

write. But I did not want to live in isolation. And I am a 

woman hard at work at discovering herself, her purpose. 

The stain of carrion on my lips. The river gives me the  

silent treatment. It is green. I can’t see my reflection  

though. Perhaps it is because I too am a sad ghost. I can’t 

let go of the difficulties of the piggy jasmine, and how it does  

not grow anymore the way it used to. I can’t let go of the  

milk of life, and the substitutes that taste like honey, and  

there’s an illusion found in everything. I just cannot let go 

of the solitude. The weeping in the morning just before 

I get out of bed. This feeling of losing control. Of not being 

in control. And then the man is all I can think of. I am afraid 

he is going to leave me. They always do for I am too sad.  

There’s action in the swarm. And all the bee does is simply 

remove oppression. And so, I live in the poverty of the  

nightfall. I cannot bear to live anywhere else. This is a  

palace compared to the other places that I have lived in life. 

**

John Updike 

He writes. He writes. He writes. He writes. And it feels 

as if he is writing to me. There’s the letting go of sadness, 

the letting go of emptiness, of the swamp ape in the land. 

Lines written after communion, and as I write this, I am  

aware of growing older, men growing colder. And this  

afternoon, the dust of it, the milky warmth of it loose like 

flowers upon me fastening their hold on me, removes the  

oppression that I know from all of life. Youth is no longer  

on my side. The bloom of youth. Wasteland has become a  

part of my identity. I am a bird. A rejected starling. To age 

sometimes feels as if you are moving epic mountains. Valleys 

that sing with the force of winds, human beings, the sun.  

And he is beautiful. And he is kind. And he is the man facing  

loneliness, and the emptiness of the day. And I am the woman 

facing loneliness, and the emptiness of the day. But how  

can you be lonely if you are surrounded by so many people.  

I want to be those people, if only to be in your presence a  

little while longer. Death is gorgeous, but life is even more so. 

I have become weary of fighting wars. Of the threshold of  

waiting. And so, I let go of solitude at the beach. I see my mother’s 

face in every horizon. She is my sun. And the man makes 

a path where there is no path before. The minority of the day 

longs for power. The light reckons it has more sway over  

the clouds. And there’s ecstasy in the shark, in his heart with 

a head full of winter. Freedom is his mother tongue lost in  

translation of the being of the trinity. Tender is the night. 

     The clock strains itself. Its forward motion. Its song. Its lull 

during the figuring of the daylight. He’s my knight but he 

doesn’t know it. He makes me forget about my grief, loss, my loss, 

the measure of my grief. Driftwood comes to the beach and  

lays there like a beached whale. Not stirring, but like some  

autumn life, something about life is resurrected again, and the 

powerful hands of the sea become my own. Between the grass 

and the men, there is an innocent logic. I don’t talk to anyone, 

and no one talks to me. It is Tuesday. Late. I think you can  

see the despair in my eyes. The kiss of hardship in my hands.  

It always comes back to that, doesn’t it somehow. The hands 

The hands. The hands. Symbolic of something, or other it seems.  

Wednesday morning. It is early. After twelve in the morning, 

and I can’t sleep. For the life of me I can’t sleep. Between the  

two of us, he’s the teacher. There is a singing sound in his voice. 

I don’t know why I can’t read his mind anymore. There’s  

confusion in forgetting that becomes a secret. Almost a contract 

between two people. And when I think of him, I think of love  

and Brazil, love and couples. And there’s a silent call from a 

remote kind of land, and ignorance is a cold shroud. Some 

things are born helpless in a world of assembled images, and  

how quickly some people go mad with grief (like me), dream  

of grief (like me), sleep with grief on their heart (like me). Speak 

to me before all speech is gone. This image, or perhaps another. 

His face is made up of invisible threads. Each more handsome  

than the last. And my face becomes, turns into the face of love.  

***

Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee Abigail George is a blogger, essayist, poet, short story, novella, grant writer and novelist. She briefly studied film at the Newtown Film and Television School in Johannesburg. Her latest book is The Scholarship Girl published by Mwanaka Media and Publishing and edited by Tendai Rinos Mwanaka. She has two chapbooks forthcoming in 2020, Of Bloom and Smoke and The Anatomy of Melancholy as well as a short story collection Parks and Restoration. She is the recipient of four writing grants from the National Arts Council in Johannesburg, the Centre for the Book in Cape Town and ECPACC in East London. Her essays have been published in Ovi Magazine: Finland’s English Online Magazine, the Kalahari Review, Synchronized Chaos, Fanzine, Entropy Magazine and a Special Report in Modern Diplomacy and many more. She writes about issues and topics across a broad spectrum such as mental health awareness, God, spirituality, nature and women. This is her first feature on The Fictional Café.

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2 comments
  • Don Beukes says:

    Dear Abigail,

    Your writing reminds me of the apple orchard tea garden at Grantchester, in Cambridge, England. Arriving at the quaint Rupert Brooke museum opposite the car park… Then ordering tea&gigantic fresh scones with clotted cream& plum jam… Then scouting for a spot under wise apple trees, then afterwards heading to the Cam river, walking through ancient English meadows to get into a punt to Cambridge uni…aaaah utter bliss! And on the way out, just outside the entrance, strolling alongside Jeffrey Archer’s cottage, to explore the village where Plath and Brooke used to dwell…You are Plath you are Brooke…
    Your are ancient meadow…Bravo!

  • Jack B. Rochester says:

    Dear Abigail, I was intrigued by your notion of writing a poem for, and about, favorite authors. I’ve recently taken an interest in Carson McCullers and, now having finished “Where the Crawdads Sing” (wow) I intend to read her “The Heart is a Lonely Hunter.” From what I know of McCullers, your poem to her is quite, um, emotionally alliterative, if I may put it that way. “John Updike” is perhaps another matter: a man driven to write and write and write, as if spreading himself across the literary landscape like butter on bread. In any event, I hope you will continue to write, perhaps more poems about other authors you find interesting; but no matter what the subject, please write more of the excellent verse you’ve shared with us here on Fictional Cafe. ~ Jack

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