(for the Dutch poet Joop Bersee)
Leave the light on. Let it overflow this
room. I want joy to fill my mouth.
Somebody leave the light on. Draw the curtains as
the charming night falls all around us, mother.
You’re ancient and thin and smoked
too many cigarettes in another life.
This valley is private and irrational. Its
language does not have a safety-net.
Language must be translated. This valley is distant
and shifting. Its company is as toxic as
orange clouds if you didn’t surmise that.
No one cares about you the way that
I care about you. No one is going to
love you the way that I love you. I was
talking about this valley before you
interrupted me. This valley that is part-
decay, part-life, and faintness, and part-
electric depth, and cutting burning flight,
and spine-envy and of the toothless
shepherd’s season. Books come from
ghosts. Ghosts, ghost, ghosts, ghost.
How I love all of them. How I want to
dance with all of them. How I want to
kiss their cold lips. Dance away from
the winter in their arms. How I want to
visit stations. Feast upon and treasure and
trace the winter in their veins. These
invited-uninvited guests. They’re headless
in the lamplight’s moth flame. They’re
my tribe. These friendly boys who once
could have been anything. Now they’re
all washed away but not their sins. I tell
myself with feeling that ghosts come
from scrolls. Books on geography and nature.
Ghosts come from books. Ghosts come
from this heroic writing. Winter studies of
the sleeping tongues of beautiful women.
This is the road taken if you forget all-of-me
Pushcart Prize-nominated Abigail George is a South African-based blogger, essayist, poet, novella and short story writer. Recipient of two grants from the National Arts Council in Johannesburg, one from the Centre for the Book in Cape Town, and another from ECPACC in East London. She briefly studied film.