We citizens of Africa are her volcano
people. The burning climate of the sea.
Flame climbing to meet the end of the
sky. The end of the world. The river’s
heart has a hangman’s noose. Glaciers
mean change. Her cages made of tough knots.
Knots that sharpen the daylight and blue
dissolve of the sky. But we do not know of
glaciers in Africa. We only know of snow
on the mountains in winter. We hug this all-
powerful knowledge to our chest at night to
keep warm. Even a linoleum-covered
floor can be treasured. The cement ‘garden’ in
the backyard. Opera music blaring from the
radio. Writing about people means I get to dissect
them. Pull them apart at the seams. Live with
them for a short while, love them, and then
leave them. There are two kinds of girls in this
world. The ‘Madonna’ and the ‘Mother Teresa of
Calcutta’. The instant was swept away just
as quickly as it had come upon me. The road
in the distance was magnificent. The heat wave
in summer electric just like she was. She
brought the sea to me. Rain gathered overhead and the
heavens opened her floodgates. Her fingers tap out
another language on the piano. Her swim
is like a fish. She told me once of how she
had nearly drowned as a girl in a hotel swimming
pool. Her mother brushed her blonde hair as thick
as honey as I sat next to her. She’s all mouth
and perfumed hair. Fragility. Her mouth was filled
with French verbs. At the beach her cousins were
hard on me. Her memory is as faint as a drum roll
now. You don’t know me anymore. I don’t know you.
You’ve become a stranger waiting for her train
at the station, the future of blue-green seawater.
You come to me in a dream like Hemingway or
church. Before I wake up completely I find that
I am losing my voice. My religion. That I am the
sum of the burnt sun of my experience. That I lack
nothing. That I am flesh, but also spirit. Also of
the soul world. That I am love and so are you.
Even when I was a child, I was love. I remember
what people say. And then there’s this panorama of loving
you in secret. I kept diaries even then. I remember
how I did not talk back. Smile even. I remember
what the bullies smiled at. God, how I remember.
I don’t mean to raise my voice, dad, but I do. I’m apologetic.
Sorry when I do. I am still that strangeness
within me that found the strength to grow. I am,
I was always different. The dress is coming up
over my shoulders. The strangeness that found
me had peculiar interests. Was always lonely, upset,
hurt, sensitive and then suddenly one day I woke
up and I was brave. It is the last month of winter.
All of us chilled to the wild bone within us. Yes,
we have had rain. There are signs that this is
perhaps the end of all of us. Western civilization
as know of it. Written in fragments of disaster relief. There
was always this struggle for creativity within me.
About the Writer:
Pushcart Prize nominated for her fiction “Wash Away My Sins” Abigail George is a Port Elizabeth-based South African blogger at Goodreads and Piker Press, essayist, poet, playwright, grant, novella and short story writer. She briefly studied film at the Newtown Film and Television School in Johannesburg. She is the recipient of writing grants from the National Arts Council in Johannesburg, the Centre for the Book in Cape Town and ECPACC (Eastern Cape Provincial Arts and Culture Council) in East London. Her writing has appeared numerous times in print in South Africa, in various anthologies, and online in e-zines based across Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, Ireland, and the United States. She is the writer of eight books including essays, life writing, memoir pieces, novellas, poetry and a self-published story collection.