Jambula tree

When Sylvie and I are six we eat jambula till our tongues turn indigo then we travel home with night licking our heels. In the morning, our foreheads still anointed in violet blessings, we twine our stick-arms around its branches and stuff banana fibre dolls in the hollows of its roots. We swaddle make-believe babies…

Have You Been Lonely Before?

Cheap perfume Misted over greying wool Lightly pressing against his chest Concealing that grizzly beastly self Sculpted around those not-so voluptuous Muscles rounding his gentle beastly self Do you ever sleep with your eyes wide open Wake bright and early inflated red-eyed Do you ever imagine shadows marching on the walls Wake ankles toes wobbly…

The Gloria/Ascension

My darkest moments are those leading to my success,a hesitation where I question – do I deserve this?where my ambition drains like a time lapse in reverseand I set out to seek a great perhaps through verse. Notes tuck themselves back into books,passages fold themselves into memoriesmy tongue reabsorbs every spoken wordwhich precipitates into a…

Soul Approval

I’m here to tell you a story about a woman who hated herself Not because she was poor or ugly Not because she was orphaned or homeless But she just did And I’m here to tell you a story about a man who hated his life He dreaded every moment of it Woke up each…

Circle of women

Your head is a hiveyou are not sure you will survive.Women form a circle around youIn their eyes, your stories flow like The Nile.They collect themand hand you the cup.         Go aheadthey saybut you hesitate.        It’s okaythey sayand you receive. You raise the cup to your lipsand pass…

Forget (Arua) Remember (Pakwac)

Forget how the rolling hills stopped rolling and began unfolding into flatlands. You have left the badlands. Forget how the sky opened and left behind skyscrapers and scraped knees bleeding into pavement and how blood paved your way into estrangement. Your scraped skin already belonged to the streets and the wounds flowering on your body…

Stank with Sweat

The brave face I wear is never washed It stinks with sweat my mother’s and mine She taught me how to put it on to fit my wobbly bones to be the face that you would know My brave face has a smile it lasts for thirty seconds and plays back after a minute It…

My son Nok

You turn your head away“He is my son”, I say“He was taken out of my grip”, I sayHe learnt how to shoot with a gun. He shot from village to villageenemies we all becamelapena leaves couldn’t hide uswe were handed blankets, beans and poshointernally displaced we became. Then I heard he was dead.“He is my…

If there had been an owl

My son          died the death I should have died                   quietly         – he went – in his sleep. On that morning the sun shimmered like it had showered in gold – I would have understood if there had been an owl – two hoots (one for each year he breathed). and no sun…

Abigail George

Abigail George is a South-African feminist, poet and writer based in Port Elizabeth. Born in 1979, she is a prolific writer: she has written a novella, several books of poetry and collections of short stories. She is a Pushcart Prize nominee and the recipient of two South African National Arts Council Writing Grants and of one from the Centre for…