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Abigail George :: Two poems

On the edge of cracking up
(for Gerda and Ambrose, my parents)

    I know of the sorrows of this 
world. The sorrows of a mother who in
    old age has become deaf. She
    lost a brother in a car accident
    when she was a girl but she never
    speaks about it. I try too hard 
to reach out to her (even now). I see God in her face 
    of love. I know she has her reasons
    for the ways in which she has
    loved me. She was a difficult
woman to learn to love but now I can honestly
    say that I love her. I turn sketches of 
    her mysticism into poems that 
    I don’t show her. That’s my truth. All the habits 
of hate-feeling faded out in me over the years.
    On the surface of the dark secret 
    of my childhood was my mother. 
    One day, summer heat in the bathroom
    she pulled me out of the bathwater
    and hit me like a madman. It was turned into a
story by my siblings that they recited

Over the years. In the middle of
    The night as a child I could not sleep.
    The onset of insomnia that would
    Continue into adulthood. That river
    Was wide. Too hard to cross. I still
    Hear her voice inside my head. When
    Will you find your prince? When will you find a job? You’re a disgrace to me.
Even now in my dreams I walk up streets and down streets. Running down, running 
    down to Jean Rhys’ purple sea. There
    was always magic and loneliness in sleep.
    I dreamed at right angles. In metaphor. 
It was home and impenetrable sanctuary. Wing and windows to my soul. 
    Yes, now I am no stranger to
the mad dance of insomnia and depression.
    When I was young, I thought my mother never loved me. My father
    did but my mother never loved me.
    I think back to that day when she hit
me blue and black on my body, screaming at
    me to stop crying and I ran with my
    bare-naked little body into my father’s
arms. He picked me up, looking at my mother.
Looking at me. Saying you shouldn’t be doing this. I always thought he 
would leave her but he never did.

(for Ambronese and Mikale)

    At 3-years-old he’s like magic.
Every fragment in his life has a spark. We 
    said to each other, that ‘the child’ 
is already an old-soul. Already we could see he was gifted.
    That he was going to be like
    his father. We built a sandpit for the kid.
    Fed him ice cream and bananas when he came home from school.
    He played in the dirt making
    mud soup. Grief too has bones.
    In his hands paper becomes an ocean. 
    The bees have no wrinkles. 
    Even the dogs hidden by mist
    are on edge. Here, when the 
sun shines we sit at the river’s edge, fish on the coals.
    With the desires of our intellect, our goals in our heart.
    And, for me, a pure dream of a husband appears in evening 
    At the end of the day I know 
    what loneliness is, (that bright 
    burnt sparse river in the valley 
    of a dream husband appearing 
    in shadow). I think of other men 
    (like my father and brother). Men
    of great intellect who live for 
    books, education and museums.
    Their robust work ethic. The 
    women that they admire, love, yearn for and respect.
Think to myself how I fail at being that kind of woman.
    My own mother (with age) 
 has become a frail frightened monster. It 
frightens me to say the word ‘elderly’. Her pretty mouth a 
    startled frightened bird. In water,
    in my far-off youth she was a 
    mermaid. Now she has dirty fingernails.
    In morning light, you will find 
    her in her garden of succulents as beautiful and 
    elegant as she was as a young 
    bride (I was never going to be a bride at 25-years-of-age). I 
    think of when the decay of 
my own life began. When my mother took me to a psychiatrist. When I received 
    my first diagnosis. My very first
    pamphlet on mental health. 
    I wore too much makeup. I 
    wore my kitten heels. I’m not as 
    precious to my mother as her other daughter. Lovely daughters
    are always precious. Always 
cherished. Clothed in beautiful statements.

Pushcart Prize nominee Abigail George is a South African blogger, essayist, poet and short story writer. She briefly studied film at the Newtown Film and Television School followed by a stint at a production company in the heart of Johannesburg. She has received two writing grants from the National Arts Council, one from the Centre for the Book and another from ECPACC. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Aerodrome,, Bluepepper, Dying Dahlia Review, Entropy, Fourth and Sycamore,, Gnarled Oak, Mortar Magazine, Ovi Magazine, Peeking Cat Poetry Magazine, Praxis Magazine Online, The Missing Slate, and The New York Review. She is the writer of 6 books.

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submissions :: where is the river

Up to six poems in a single .doc file with author biography and photo to All rights revert to the author/s upon publication.

issue twenty-seven :: January/February 2022

  Christopher Patton :: Glitch Apple Howie Good :: Three poems Kenneth M Cale :: Three visual poems Christian Ward :: Three poems Matthew Walsh :: POACHED EGGS Jeremy Scott :: Five poems

about :: where is the river

where is the river :: a poetry experiment is a bi-monthly poetry journal open to a variety of aesthetics, forms and experiences, with a preference towards showcasing work by emerging writers. There is no single path, nor any single way. Founded in September 2017. Edited by Kiefer JD Logan.