Three poems by Abigail George

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Gnarled oak in the poet’s hands
(for Diana Ferrus and the Dutch poet Joop Bersee)

This is a song for the lover of poems. Tall
poems. Short poems. Poems written with a
quiet courage. There’s an alchemy found
there. A sanctuary called home and freedom.
I can write a poem anywhere. While sitting on a
park bench watching the day go by. Listening
to classical or opera music. Walking on the
beach. Dancing and singing with my nephews.
Look at the winter leaf. Look at how it gathers
under your bedroom window. Look at the
arrangement of light as it falls on this cool
as spring Monday afternoon. Rain nourishes

soil. The soul makes a transition from the
worldly to the earthly plane. There’s place for new life
and the old ways of the world. I’m homesick
for smoke and honey that fill the landscape
of my city. You are a song of the experience
of innocence. Of the loneliness of solitude. Of
futility. And whenever I dream of solitude or
vertigo or innocence or tenderness I think of
you. I gaze at the grass when the sky is blue.
And when night comes I gaze at the starlit night
and when day comes I try not to think of the distance
between us, thinking of Freud and man’s soul.

Autumn’s gift
(for Diana Ferrus and the Dutch poet Joop Bersee)

This pathetic frustration comes only in June.
Loneliness eats me up from the inside. From
my heart (can you believe that?). I mask it with
perfume. She paints her mouth a fire engine
red. Her nails an exotic colour that matches
the cocktail she is drinking. Hungry for her
love I fall through the sky to meet her. There’s
life even after the wreck of me was found in
the abyss. Something is forgotten. The day.
The day. The night. I hope that she drowns in

traces of the perfume I always wear. In music.
In the rooms of her house, that looks like the
pages of an interior decorating magazine. She
lives in a city on red alert. In the shadow of the
sun. She’s attractive and a victim. She wears
the scars of America and Brazil. She’s haunted
by her father’s manic depression. His misery that
he could not give her everything. As a woman 
she knows about homesickness now that’s cold
and electric. Coiled like a snake in her heart.

She’s been in love, but experienced a lot of
bad luck. She’s never married or had a serious
relationship in years. She walks differently from
the way she did when she was in high school. In those
days she was a dreamer. By this time she had
planned to have a tribe of children. A golden bear
of a husband. A true and firm example and a splendid
lion of a man. Now, her shoulders are hunched
sometimes as if she has spent the evening crying. Sometimes
she’s sad, but she always smells of perfume.

Woman studying ecology from the ground up
(for Diana Ferrus and the Dutch poet Joop Bersee)

Here’s a thought. Love. Here’s another thought.
Be kind. Accept that all children are mischievous.
It’s in their nature to be gregarious. Don’t think
about the life you could have had. This will only
make you sad and you’ve cried enough tears. You’ve
cried enough tears, enough salt for the children
that you didn’t have. The husband that never courted you,
called you, “my darling”. The husband that never

whispered sweet nothings in your ear. Know that
you’re special anyway, even though you don’t belong
to the tribe of wife and mother. Even though you
belong in a separate village. Feed on cooked fish
alone sometimes. Good bread and cheese. Red
wine and pasta. Let the erosion in your soul disperse.
Just let go, and if you’re not strong to let go of it
then surrender it to the song that the wind carries

in her heart, the bright lights of the city that you
live in now. Rain washed away tears and sins. You
wanted to know what tomorrow would bring. Just
another day. Don’t live in fear. Don’t do that. It’s
an exquisite waste of time. In your city, I know, I know
how it is. Silence can eat away at your soul. So will
all of loneliness’s fetters. You’ve cried enough tears.
I know you: when you’re silent, when you don’t say a

thing, you’re thinking of us in the same way that we’re
thinking of you. You’re missing us. We’re all, all, all
missing you. I know you know about a literal hunger. A
starvation that goes way beyond the soul. Many people
do think like that. But they won’t admit it to themselves.
They’d rather die than admit it. That there are two kinds
of pain in this world. The still life found in disorder
and the strangeness to this town make me sad. Save me.

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    Abigail George

    Alone, or lonely, Poetry, or short story. Craft, or blood, sweat, and tears. Politically-conscientious, or radical fourth-wave feminist. Even at 40, I have to stop, force myself not to hug my narcissistic mother, not to touch her, or love her in the face of all of her redemptive sacrifices that she made for me and my brilliant, neglectful, manic depressive father. My mother is the reason that I became a writer-poet in the first place. So, I don't put my hand in hers, and what is mother-love, unconditional love anyway in the face of extreme adversity, but an education, and a struggle. I chose to save myself, to give myself life, and I didn't wait for anyone underfoot, man, woman, or child to do that for me. So, I'm resilient, but I want instant gratification anyway, and I'm not spontaneous, and I just want to be loved, which is why I write. To save myself, and to give me life, and I will never, never stop talking about the recovery, and relapse of mental illness, abuse, and incidents of trauma stemming from childhood. See the Sylvia Plath effect by Kaufman. There is a link between mental illness in female poets, trauma, sexual, and physical abuse in childhood, and the creativity they inherit from their parents. Now more research just has to be done. I still wish I was as beautiful as my mother, and my sister combined. So, I take the pills to numb the pain, the happy pills, still I write, so I guess that's the gift and curse of it all.

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