Like writer father, like poet daughter

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(for Dutch poet Joop Bersee)

A kitchen is never dead. It is a living thing. A
Jerusalem. There were no waves. No distant

shoreline. Only a greenness passing through the
climate. Swimmers’ heads cut off from the rest

of their bodies in the school swimming pool,
and I wonder if you still remember me. Skinny

legs. Serious face. Nose stuck in a book. Seriously
curly hair. Books under my arm. Nabokov.

Gillian Slovo. I never promised you a rose garden.
Now you pass through me as if you’re passing

through a reflection. Take your medication.
Make dad breakfast. And then there is this struggle

of loving men who prefer the company of other
men. You’re things that make me happy and

things that make me sad. You’re like a ray of
light, my darling, my sweetheart, my love. I

love you until all my insides are raw, until my spirit
has withered away into nothingness and nausea.

Until the house that I reside in, my ice house,
turns winter into summer. The kitchen sink is

my mother’s wasteland. It is her politics, her flesh,
her prize. She rolls deep in her garden. That’s

her bliss. That’s being honest, and after the rain
she’s Jean Rhys, and during the rain she edits me

away, censors me, declares me Mrs Rochester.
Her hands smell like spaghetti. These same hands

that tear me apart. Ripping me apart until I’m
raw. Raw! And everything after that tastes

metallic. I brush my teeth, but it’s as if I’m doing
laundry or something. I can’t get the stain out.

And there’s a feast of winter in my hair while
I think of Harlem and the African Renaissance.

Also read:

Letter to a brother in rehab

The healing room

Swimming towards emptiness on a bright summer day


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  • Abigail ... 'n naam waarin soveel betekenis vir my opgesluit lê (eertydse koningsvrou).
    Skrandere digterlikheid met 'n stem wat diep insny in my hart.

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    Abigail George

    I don't have a favourite poem, but "Like writer father, like poet daughter" comes close. I never have lazy days when it comes to writing poetry, although I'm a bit of a workaholic. I think of Antigone, I think of Joan of Arc whenever I think of inspiration, and, of course, they were women who changed the world they lived in.

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