The sad fact is, beautiful trauma is just like fire, and giving regret the once-over
(for the poet Sara Teasdale)
Tonight, my heart is open, and yet
I’m feeling rough, this tough-bird,
I’ll forget you now when I open the
liquid-brown of my eyes, you are the
only man I can express my heart’s
war, my loneliness to. You’re mine, love, but
you belong to another, and as a man
you belong to the world. Your smile
is angelic, and I know you feel it too.
The unbearable loneliness in the
early hours of the morning, as the night breaks into
day, divine intuition, the passage of
waiting for intimacy on the exhale, calling
the love song between the lit flame, I
am here, but you’re not. You took your
love, took another, had a child, forgot
me, and now I’m waiting here for love.
I’m voyeur, waiting for you, studying you,
loving you, while you love another.
And the moonlight, the stars sing
your glory, your hair feels like soft
rain Mishka, and your shadow is sore, in a dress
looking like regret. I’m in love with
my cousin, I’m in love with my brother-
in-law, a man who once was my film
lecturer, a man who taught me English
in high school but they’ve all gone away now,
and all I’m left with is the spell they put
me under, Hemingway’s short stories,
female poets who collapsed and fell apart,
and because of the chemistry of their
brain took their own life. Think of me,
or don’t think of me with my German-
ancestry, sunbathing my pale-king-skin,
think of my sobriety, fake tan, and nobody loves
me, and that’s the truth. You certainly don’t
anymore. Mishka has Stuart. Stuart has
Mishka, and I, I have no one. No love.
I think of the street lights, when the
sun comes up. I watch the dark skies
turn into blue, the branches as-black-
as-shade, the night turns into a breakthrough.
The men in my life leave, leave, leave.
The males in my life have given me
paradise, worlds, opera and classical
music, words and they taught me to be
myself, on my own. They call me love,
I call them love, or loves, or lovers, or
ex. Fire leaves at the end of the day, and
so does the flame of regret, snow, the
man, in my life, the woman in my life, if
my mother had just loved me just a little, said she was proud
of me, instead of calling me “mistake”.
When in Rome
(for my paternal grandparents)
You and that see-through dark-haired girl, you love
her, don’t you. Let me count all the ways you love her.
I could be dead, or just missing, or just missing out
on you. Your name is a song inside my head, and mob
justice burns bright tonight. There’s so much of you
in the narrative and context of my stories. There will
always be so much of you. And we were never lovers,
nor boyfriend and girlfriend, just a crack in the system,
and you know how much I love you, and you know
about my nervous breakdown, that I never finished
high school, and I know you want to be a family-man,
I know you want to build a home; I know you want
to belong, but life means different things to us, to us.
My home is the world, my home is under Scandinavian
skies, my home is sexy-Swaziland, minor earth and
major sky. Your lips are like velvet, and my face is
made of stone. I think you’re the epitome of cool, want to
kiss you so much, pull you in real close, but you’re in
love with a dark-haired girl now, and I have to respect
you, and remember you, and remind you I loved you too,
I loved you before she did, I loved you first. It’s
lonely out here blogging away in this frozen wilderness,
but writing brings an order to my life, and my neck is
graceful, and you’ll never see me naked, it has been too
long, and so many things have gone unsaid between us.
So, this is goodbye then my loyal friend until I see you
in heaven. And I’m going to cry Argentina, there’s nothing
you can do about that. We could have been lovers. We
could have been lovers. We could have been lovers. And I’m
not maternal, although my throat has a masculine energy.
Abigail George is a South African writer and poet.