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Voyage into Eternity
by Abigail George
2015-05-24 12:32:04
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A story within a story. A story about two homosexuals. Love in a psych ward. Persephone and Zeus.

My grandchild. He looks at me with his bright eyes. Unafraid. He does not know yet how to fear contact from strangers. Innocent, he does not know what the meaning of ‘death warmed up’ means. To ward off contact from them.

There is something about me that seems very proper. I did not know it then. I would only realise it later. That he was making a righteous fool out of me. This is it. This is freedom. This is pain. Freedom’s costume. The letting go. The realisation. The awareness. The vision in gold. I have loved many men. Do not get me wrong. Perhaps it was because I did not have an identity at the time or it was rather the ego that got in the way. Egoism.

I became ill in my dream.

Older sisters come to me. Older sisters I invoke thee. Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton, Sharon Olds, Jorie Graham, Ingrid Jonker, Bessie Head, Mary Oliver, Sappho.

I would ask for your protection although I know that I will not get it.

Hope, suffering and pain. This is an unmarried woman’s lot in life and not necessarily in that order.

Feeling nuts, cuckoo or as polite company would call living on the edge precariously, out on the edge.

There was a kind of despondency in her eyes. Loneliness washing over her. Loneliness washing over me. I stared at her photograph at the back of the book. She looks like me. Determined and quiet. Serious and bookish.

Once you go back to Johannesburg, there is no turning back.

Once you go back to Cape Town, there is no turning back.

Do you not just want to wake up one morning and know in your bones that you are great at something without whispering it in your ear or the wind whispering it in your hair? Confiding it in someone or telling a single living soul.

They lay in each other’s arms for a long time. Persephone and Zeus.

‘Are you praying?’ Persephone asked Zeus.

‘No. I am admiring the view. Are you praying?’ Zeus answered in return.

‘It is a beautiful night is it not.’ Persephone picked a blade of grass and chewed on its end thoughtfully thinking that this moment was perfect in the world. ‘I said a short prayer just now. A view like tonight can do that to you.’

‘Let me tell you a story Persephone. A story about K. Sello Duiker’s infinite beauty in his writing in these words. He lacked egoism.’

They were lying on the grassy field looking up at the stars at the psych hospital.

An abundance of hopeful wisdom.

A family house filled with stairs and scribble.

Antagonism is for fools. At the least, cowards. At the most, the truly gifted ones. We all have to have the shattered pieces of it in our souls to make us who we are. It is part of humanity’s makeup.

Poor people. Poor egoists. Every one of them out there are fools and cowards but sometimes they make you thankful for what you have. They make you thankful for the environment that you live in and thankful for the world. They give you room to grow in your personal space, to put the daily grind behind you. They give you enough space to mourn the pressure to put the vulnerabilities aside. Persephone said all in one breathe. She thought to herself. I am glad I am not one of them as if she was separate from humanity.

‘You are a romantic my Persephone.’ Said Zeus. ‘All romantics would do in their spare time if they could would be to visit museums. Love of my life, you negotiate the weather. When it rains, you take your umbrella. You learn to negotiate the storms of your life, your high heels from your sandals, and your lipsticks from your rouge pots. When you have a daughter, it is a different warpath out there. It starts when she lets go off your apron strings. Refuses to play dress up under the kitchen table or with your church hats anymore.’

One day I will say these words, think them, write them down in a diary, journal them.

You are not necessary anymore for me to dream, fall asleep at night, have those life-orientated goals, love, live, laugh. You are somewhat diminished now. Evaporated is a better word. If I said, I missed you I would be lying. Due to some amazing triumph, I have been declared sane again. Better than sane. I am starting to hate people who have everything. This must mean I must have a lot of self-hate to deal with. This must mean that I am as high as a kite. I do not want your kind of flattery or compliments. I know that I have not accomplished anything of true and lasting greatness yet. Excellently. Questioning. Have I done it yet? It is one thing for your performance to leave a lasting impression. It is quite another for you to like yourself. Accept your talent while you on that stage and the spotlight has made a halo.  I hate you but I love you at the same time. I told my reflection in the mirror.

What am I going to do with you? This split personality. The voices inside my head. If it was not for the electric shock therapy. I can either love you or leave you personality. I cannot do both at the same time since that would require some kind of miracle. I put it bluntly. You are putting me down. You are kicking me to the curb. What is the difference between love, loving and hating? Everything, everything and nothing so shine Sputnik. I love me. Today of all days I have decided to love all of effeminate me. I do but when I am at my worst do not come and see me in the psychiatric ward. Do not pick up the telephone and make that call. I will not answer. I will not come to the phone. I will be mean-spirited and nasty too. I promise you I will not be cute. I will not have any kind of cute personality. Afterwards I will remember nothing during my recovery period.

I will blame the rotten weather we are having on you. The nature of the rain today on you. The state of my mental faculties on you. You, the family who never visited. I will never wish ill health on you though. Are we having good times yet? Are we happy? Glad to see me. That we have met confidence, empathy, sanity and the fact that I a man again and not effeminate all at once and again. Whatever you do immediate family, brothers and sisters of mine keep your distance and I will keep mine. While you are at work, play, resting, eating your sumptuous Sunday lunches with your family friends, progeny and spouses, salt in this, salt in that, venison, lamb and chicken leaving crumbs on your plates forget all about me. You, sisters, your hair smells like beef because of you standing over the cooking pots so long. Your tea tastes meaty. I will not hold it against you if you do. I promise I will not hate you.

My hate for you has a pig’s ear and a piggy heart. The airs and graces of death warmed up that the innocent grandchild in my life knows nothing about yet. We grew up together. I shared a childhood, a father who was a barman and a mother who was a domestic and took in washing with you. Let me talk to you about Cape Town. My daughter, the pretty one had a depression there. Lived alone in a flat. Listened to Stereophonics, the Beatles, Fiona Apple and Coldplay. Worked for a marketing company. She worked like a machined. Did relatively well. Saved her money. Paid off her student loans. Travelled to India and Thailand. To Bloemfontein. I see the innocent is already the brighter of the two children. Already I wonder what his fate will be. Will he follow my example? Will he become a writer too? God, I hope not. You spend your whole life making sacrifices and sacred contracts with people for your children and in the end, you become a writer.

Writers do not talk much. They make a case study out of everyone they meet. They love and there are always a succession of deaths in those loves. I hope that the innocent, my grandchild, that he does not dance in my footsteps. Do not hurry I want to tell him. I am back in the hospital again. This time it is not Valkenberg but Elizabeth Donkin.

You write like a girl, my brother says.

There is nothing lost in translation when coming home to the mock wife playing house, moving furniture around just for the sake of it. She is the one who is burning the pots that I have to wash but I wash those pots with a lot of hard work and love. I am not coping because I am not the doctor. Because I am not the one who is fluent in the doctor’s language no matter how hard I try. How will I be able to benefit from wearing that white laboratory coat, stethoscope around the neck, with that particular bedside manner?  Where is my infinite piano? Watch this. Watch this romance. It is clever math, no; it is elegant math with all of its violent alertness under my fingertips. What is the weather like in Los Angeles? What is a winter like in Los Angeles? What will my head say to my heart as I walk on that beach, or breathe in that valid air from that Parisian meadow with my moral compass to navigate me on those open roads, the wide open spaces of the Midwest?

What will my limbs say to each other in London if I ever get around to having that London experience forgoing all my responsibilities as a writer and a poet in South Africa? For is not that what I am primarily. A South African writer and poet living in a post-apartheid apocalyptic city. City life as opposed to life in the rural countryside. Searching for greener pastures in the asphalt garden where everything is golden and chameleon-like. I have never wanted the experience of loss. The measure of loss but life has given me that responsibility. Sutures too. Moreover, panic and I have had to thread both against threadbare knuckles. I have covered myself up with an American quilt. It has become my shroud. It has become my cover in other poetry. However, I feel it all the time now. The warmth of anxiety. I feel it humming, humming, and humming in my bones. Singing to the leaves on the winter trees. Guests everyone. They are like bees. They are a rapturous swarm. What do I know without having a sophisticated culture, a knowledge and education beyond this tidal moon and sun and then I think of the planets. How like the planets I am? I know my place.

I know my place so well now that I cannot give it up. In addition, why would I? There will never be a case of mistaken identity. All I will ever know about life is the predictions of Sappho, poetry and writing. In addition, how sometimes how beautifully unpredictable life can be otherwise. There are storms in the dark and we need to speak about the acute pain from those storms in beautiful and wonderful ways. Mostly the image of depression is that of a wild thing. When I am crazy, I know that is when I am most alive. When I am not crazy, when I am most sober is also when I am most alive but I do not know it. All feeling leaves me and I long for the stress of crazy. I long for someone to tell me I am beautiful. You are mine. The pain of Sarajevo is in my blood. Mingled there in my blood. Staring back at me in my blood and but what can I do but stare back at it? The door was somehow left ajar for me and my heart was bursting. It ready to be split open like a pomegranate. Seeds everywhere like seawater.

I found wild oblivion, the safe passage from suffering in those seeds. At first I could not speak of the fantasy that I held in my hands and that my head wished for so ardently. I could not interpret those promised lands that my mocking husband returned from. I needed land and yet I needed to be reborn as well. I needed stress, a tour of the flesh like I needed the back of my hand. I flickered and then I was buried once again amongst the flowers. And with dirt upon my head, I soon realised that I was supposed to be the beautiful keeper of the vanished and the unexamined. The apprehended. I do not want to age. To age means to give up your mortality like an artist giving up their brushes. To age means to give up everything. To age means that you are not bold anymore and that you do not have anything to be brave over. It just happens to be in your blood to think these things. Never mind how you try not to. I need to write to you of the quiet courage of our mothers and our grandmothers. So pay attention.

Diary, I tell you everything. I tell you the secrets of my heart.

Perhaps families are not supposed to be perfect, I wrote once upon a time in my once upon a time diary. Perhaps the lessons that we learn from the people closest to us are supposed to inspire us to adjust to the world around us as we reach adulthood. How do we learn about the magical crossover between forgiveness and love if not from the relationships that mothers share with their daughters and fathers with their sons? Moreover, whether or not that gulf exists, that fragile feeling of loneliness that you remember from childhood, that flame you hope you will not remember when you are grown, everybody feels that way. It is just that nobody talks about it because it is depressing, because it reveals your vulnerable side, perhaps you think that it makes you look like you are weak and sensitive, an ordinary pawn in this cruel, sometimes vindictive game called life.  Every family, every father and mother lives with regret, with mistakes they made in the past, the excellent opportunities they missed in the spirit of youth.

Nevertheless, especially not telling their children enough of how much they were loved and wanted, how they were born and created in love. If I ever cried about losing my family, my wife and the children, it was because it hurt being away from you, being ignored, being relegated to second, third place. I was not the namesake, the pretty, beautiful, loveable, clever one that had everything effortless and coming easy. You, my wife not loving me the way I did you, you not worshipping me the way I have done all my life changed me in a negative way. You have lived and achieved your goals and dreams. I have not. I have struggled, struggled to survive, struggled to commit myself to my beliefs (faith and God), to hold onto them when I most needed to, until my spirit became my enemy. You were not there in any form when I spent nights tossing and turning in a hospital bed when I could not fall asleep. My reality blurred, twisted and wired weirdly, bizarre until I could not tell the real from dream or surreal nightmare. You were not there. You were there for the children. Looking back now in retrospect I understand what you had to save yourself from for their sake.

abi001_400Never stretches out for an eternity in memory. If I was lost, you were the chosen one on the right path. Never losing track or sight of where you wanted to go, what your destination was, your journey, and your road was an open one. You held the sun in one hand and the moon in the other. I have changed. Not one iota of selfish ambition left within me but you are the same confidant and headstrong being you have always been. Then there were my headstrong daughters, my serious son, that specimen of physical health and emotional wellbeing that I never was at his age. He was the one that was waiting to be let out, waiting for the perfect moment until he finally left home. To my son I have this to say. You leave your more human side for the ones you are loyal to, the ones you respect, drink and party with, ‘the wolves that snap at my heels’, ‘the healthy specimens’. Their faces hard with laughter, sophistication and higher learning, minus me because you decided long ago that I was not good enough to fit in with your crowd and scene, your country. This is my story. I would like to say. I would like to ask my wife what is hers almost as if we have never had that somewhat close, endearing relationship.

It might not be extraordinary to other people how we have drifted apart over the years. People drift away from each other, apart all the time. There is no law against that. I have missed that relationship, feeling the weight of that brightness like a star. All I see is you, what you have become, what you possess, own, and claim, your kind of superior intelligence, your life inexperience. You, Gerda and the children I often thought are not mine. People are not material possessions. You do not belong to me. You never have, you never will, and although for most of my adolescent and young adult life this statement has driven me insane because I could not understand what sublime dream could not put us together again. You are music and I am dirty noise. You are put-together-perfectly head to toe and I am living with a fractured heart and the suicidal-hot, schizophrenic mess of mental illness. It is not as if I have waited too long to tell you what is on my mind, what I’ve fantasised telling you, how much I have loved you, missed you, missed talking to you, confiding in you.

Now I come to my middle daughter. I miss the way you laugh. Your lovely face, the way you posed for family photographs and copied everything your sister did, the way you crinkled your nose and slurped your juice as you ran after her with your dolls, and your ‘blankie’. Your cherished blanket from your crib that covered you when you slept that deep safe dream-sleep of a newborn. Nevertheless, you are not here. You are starting to make a habit out of that. First, it was India, Mumbai and now it is Thailand, Phuket. You called on New Year’s, landed in January and mummy and me went to fetch you at the airport. Nevertheless, I irritate you, upset and annoy you and work on your nerves. You want your space, creep into bed beside mummy and shut me out, out of sight, out of mind in your outer space. It is not hard to imagine what you are thinking when you look at me. I have not ‘fulfilled my potential’, ‘lived up to your expectations’, so you have learned to anticipate nothing from me, share nothing with me. Perhaps all I have of you is the illusion of you. I am useless. I am infirm. I am an idiot. The idiot-father.

We are grown, you said once and the only responsibility we have is to ourselves, to live our own lives. For all my life, the illusion of you, your psychology, art and the culture you inhabit has been bleeding into my subconscious, my dreams. I have tried to ignore the truth of that and I am no longer quite as confused about it as I once was, but as I grow older, it has also grown with meaning. In addition, in the end the monster is not you but me. Nevertheless, monsters are extraordinarily nightmarish creatures, ghouls with no heart and no soul, flawed and perhaps when you little, a small girl with a head full of curls living in her already fragile world that is all you saw of me. Mental illness could do that to a person. Strip you to the barest elements, a losing form (truth), extended stays in hospitals with visits from our parents (truth), shapeless pyjamas (truth) and an unkempt, unruly head of dark hair (truth). You and your brother were your mother’s favourites (fact of the family matters), I never missed that, it was understood and I was the lone black sheep. How quickly children grow but they never forget.

Dreams are curious things. The nightmares keep you awake or afraid to fall asleep again. The ocean-sea inside my head tightens itself around me, grips me and its hold feels like metal, a picket fence and a grid. Moreover, in the water, it attached itself to me with its invisible hooks and I could feel myself flying through the air. I was a good boy again, young and free, holding onto my father’s hand, watching him smile at me. I would listen to Abigail’s stories of Johannesburg with shock and horror wondering if I had failed her like a father. Could I have protected her more, shielded her from the form and the gaze of the older male in the office space but I was gone, gone into another world. In a split second she was grown, a temporary worker in a city with a man who worked across from her who had a beard who was staring at her. An older man who had a wife, grown up children touching her head, smoothing her hair and telling her how pretty she was and how she didn’t even know it. She told me how frightened she was of the world around her. She told of how she played dumb staring at his hairline. White hair as white as flowers. Moreover, that night they bloomed magically from nothing inside my head like Adam’s rib or whalebone. For a moment I was filled with a waving rhythm of shame and then just as swiftly as it had come it was gone like passing gulls.

It was gone like grains on the hollow song of the wind, slipping into a stream filled with rings of the stench of rotting, decaying waste, sinking into a drain where it lost itself in the blue wild, in spells of tides. Where it lingered in brown-golden yellow-red wilderness and then as I flew higher into the rays of air I became a young woman again who was a plaything half-drowning in delirium amongst women who tasted like of things like my mother did. Honey, chocolate, tuna fish sandwiches, all of fish, sardines on crackers, salt, the dim, dim candlelight of dinner parties in the houses were my mother worked as a housekeeper where the grownups drank too much cabernet, ate far too much chicken, potatoes, pudding. I sprayed scent like a saga a little too anxiously, left the porridge burnt at the bottom of the pot that morning; oats. Now I am swimming for my life while my children in other cities reaches for umbrellas, coats or jackets and scarves next to the front door of where they are staying. I can smell the rosemary chicken but I do not want any feasts.

Therefore, in the end we will have to re-consider the truths of life which we were so religiously brought up to believe to be the truths of life and our very existence.

There is a kind of feel-good chemistry in eating and when I have purged all those bubbling molecules inside of me, I feel a sense of freedom, as if I am the only unique in the world. The pain I feel inside, that I sometimes feel I will harbour forever, that and my mother’s voice goes on and on. It connects everything within me, the internal to the external. Outside, there is the glimmer of sanity that I am insanely holding onto but inside I am disconnected from the entire human race, jealous of those who do not have to live the way I do. I have to keep away from people because I am not good for anybody. In rage, when I feel murder racing through me, when I feel the pressure of being manic, blue or darkness visible. I am too good at making you see what you want to see. At least I am good for something. It has been hard my whole life to make that picture seem so perfect. The perfect son in the perfect family who was after all not so perfect. There was again only the illusion of what outsiders wanted to see.

The perfect parents who raised children, everything about them flawless except for the one who inherited mental illness from his father’s side of the family. So, I dream of ghosts, the weight of water against my limbs, its push and pull, the secret code my mother carries imprinted on her soul. There is only signs of fate, rust, only the fact that someone or thing has been here before me in history. Perhaps it was the dew, state of abstracts and the flecks that mirrored the diamonds in my mother’s eyes. Like the wide hollows of eyes marked in cathedrals of stone that left me half-perplexed as a child. A self-portrait of an innocent in this organic of ephemeral societies. Then I know I will be able to flourish viciously. That is the trouble with remembering. You begin to wish. The soul is a thing of haunting beauty like the beauty found in flashbacks, of wonderment, of imagination and established illusion.

I am the silent man in the tender hours of the night. The night land of all night lands. Sometimes, I catch myself dreaming of the woman who just the day before was my fiancé but now she is my wife and she is lying in my arms, sleeping with her mouth open. She is sleeping dreamily.  Just sometimes, I am the silent man in the tender hours of the burning day. I must improvise or at least pretend too. My laughter is hollow. My smile is false. I am only pretending. I am the actor in this scenario. It is funny, it is simply hilarious at the end of the day when the man vanishes and leaves his children alone with his wife to cope, to cope, to cope. At the end of the day, I was a ghost. The children were screaming in the wind and there was the remarkable, elegant wife composed with her sympathetic imagination while in my mind I was destination anywhere more, again, with the life of anybody and the lifestyle of a real nobody in mind. In my dreams when I look back at my kids in childhood why, oh why are they always singing in chorus? As if those days were perfect. As if their parents, especially their dad was not flawed in so many ways but was the perfect chief. The perfect role model. Love burned a hole in my brain and then there were the photographs. Life through the lens was a battle between crushing highs and numbing lows. Life was either a swampland or a beach life. A sweet descent into the loveliness framing my sophisticated wife’s face. Love was there and so was the measure of life. I see what it is now. A family. Not a family in crisis. Certainly not a teenage wasteland.

Snow people with their faces of love cast adrift are in these wards climbing walls. Arctic warriors. Brain cells metastasized by melancholia. The slow hell of suffering. Wards of clowns right? No, not like that all. Not meant to last long in this lifetime or the next. No, not like that at all. The people of South Africa are like that. My town is a pretty high town. A dignified town filled with church people of all denominations. In Central, you will find the best girls in the world. They will detach themselves from feminism, their grandmother’s emancipation, and the tigers that come at night, their rivals in an infinite time and place. They are moneyed. Drugs have destroyed the very art of their soul and every gram of their spirits have wasted away. Instead, I am not one of them but I am still a part of their malaise.

Flesh who has come before you and after. You are forever in me, part of me. The most brilliant parts of you portioned off like cubicles in an office space. Tell me everything you want me to be I would have said in my twenties. This does not have to be the end of it but it is. It is. Still I say let it not be so. So comic. So tragic. I stand in this icehouse. In this house from hell. Pale. The origins of smoke and mirrors, the cosmic bloodlines of my imagination, can be seen through the embodiment and timeline of my flesh. Paper-thin skating on ice is what I have yearned for my entire life. Not to fail, not to discriminate, but to create art in the landscape of suicidal despair and illness. All poetry and poetic justice seems to ask of us is to have a determined lust for life.

I still need to familiarise myself with rituals that I found so comforting in childhood. Norma Jean where are you, where do you find yourself now, who are you and what is that golden reflection staring back at you? Is there anything more seductive than madness, than being blonde and being desired by the world at large, to be quiet about your philosophy on life, your starving ambitions to be a writer and a poet? To triumph as if you have triumphed like Norma Jean is to laugh in the face of men and women, of presidents, of feminists, to laugh in the face of the adversity that they have faced. No matter how brief, how solitary ecstasy is one can’t escape its urgency, its survival guide, that stain of love no matter how powerful and fresh it might be, how diminished it might make you feel in the end, you will discover that that experience was worth it.

I left the madness and the heat of the city behind me in my early twenties. It will leave you beautifully grown now. The universe is sweeter, purer, more honourable and I am less haunted, less ghostlike, less transparent, baffled by denial. I cannot erase the precious of life anymore and the fragility of it. How crushed and petrified my spirit once was. Am I, was I ever really loved? The women around me in life, in the workplace, in the sphere of immediate family were introspective cohorts. I am exhausted of writing about desire and that is the truth of the matter because in some way it is invincible like scrapbooking on anything on the inked tattooed patchwork planet that you live in. I have become a primitive woman in green spaces, green feasts of them, and foundations of winter trees of them.

I have become an invention of a contemporary woman. The invention of the width of the thread of the other woman in a land that time forgot. What are the lyrics again to that song? What are the lines that time forgot in that journal on those cold, harsh blue, blue lines? I am tired of feeding the beasts galore but must not angels always be defended? Who or what in essence defines an angel. An angel is the unseen, the invisible good and nobody can hardwire your brain as God can.

What is desire really? Smoke and honey in the dance of anger, intimacy, duplicity and deception and the eternal obsession of all those things. It is meant for the gamine, the ethereal, and the otherworldly, the magical girl. The adolescent. Children are meant for women and what happens when you like writing about death. For me I value comments on death, on eternity, on the paradise of heaven, the consciousness thinking in wishful thinking, the curious creatures that volcano people are and the many faces of saints. I have always believed in angels. The living keep on living while the dead turn to dust. There is a gloomy aching, a canvas on which to play on, the haunting ache in my brother’s soul is the same ache, which I have in my own. There is a ghost nation in my head.

The schools, the rooms, and all of the white walled interiors of my imagination. If I close my eyes, I can imagine all of our contours and the blue sharp light poured into the cages of the heavenly sky. The lover, the mother, and the drowning blossom that was me. Dirt swimming swimming in a watery spool gene pool of rubbish. The death of a pet and a poet painting this elusive world with lucid thought patterns. Does decay, blood and the dark every get lonely and the groom with the unspoken passion he has for his bride? The bride in her wedded bliss. In her impossible high shoes heels. I was there in spirit. If fish kissed oxygen, they would surely die. Their pomegranate gills snuffed out of existence. What are the grains of poverty?

Their souls lay in South Africa, perhaps even take root there. Roots tapping into the life of the soil, the culture of the earth, tapping into the weight of water, or squalor (whichever it reaches first under the circumstances), preserving the fragility of telephones as life buoys, unspecified social media is the new sexy, tapping into spiritual poverty, the cemeteries of poverty, of the bone-tired. What sweetness! The unknown comes with anticipation. The anticipation of the awareness of surprise and the prying eyes of society. Where does my soul lie? It lay with you for a while I guess. Sated bride, uninvolved woman, beauty meeting the beautiful core of a masculine identity, and the physical body of a mysterious wellspring of the intelligence of the opposite of sexuality. Alone, given way to religious abandonment, inhibitory nostalgia and the holiest of holies privacy, and with the solitude standing that comes with intimacy I think of you. You burnt through. You nothing but a burnt and melted fragment yet still dispelling radiance. You like the crested burnt end of a matchstick.

Sooty cinders in the fireplace. Cinders from the coal. Cinders and smoke from your freshly lit cigarette. Give me mouth-to-mouth resuscitation so I can be brought back to life, your life. I think that the only thing that really mattered in the end, and that was made of a substance that could be harvested from the cells of a normal reality was in the steps of Jean Rhys’s haunting vulnerability. The haunting vulnerability of all women. I can see it in their eyes, their way they hold themselves accountable to shielding themselves from being put on display if it is not on their terms, the long road of their guarded pilgrimage into humanity, spirituality. Gods to be made of their reflections inside of the looking glass.

Letter to a son in rehabilitation. Son and anchor. The ‘filthy exotic’ ceramic little Buddha pottering around. You were the anchor that cemented me, my symphony, my instrument, my common goal, my oracle, my passion. You were my one route to follow homeward bound. What resides in the heart is this. The walls of a garden made of brick and mortar, stone and everything that is healing. Winter trees and Whitman. It is time for the show, finding Isaiah in the gritty switch of the loophole. Why did you not come once? Why didn’t you write once healthy specimen of possession, what is the tragedy of it all but are you happy, refreshed by all the seeds, roots, flowers and stems? I stared and stared at the photograph of him and wondered at the tragedy of it all. Speechless before the image evaporates completely something takes place and soon everything finds its place on neutral ground, in gravity, on earth or in soil. There is no promise in the dying of the sun only the angelic, the whispers underfoot. There is new life in flowers, in love, in empathy and the passion that humanity has for empathy. Everything frail before it is lost.

‘Do not lecture me. You don’t know anything about my scars.’ I know instinctively that is what my son is thinking. He says it with his eyes too and I see a wild blue sky. Its journey is electric where its routes have become as important as the destinations of a diamond in the rough. Through the looking glass’s façade comes the first hurt, the poetry of my early twenties. Every family is dysfunctional in their own way. We live in a traumatic society. I seem to have been born with this intuition to be thoughtful and sensitive, understanding and caring to others who seem to be in a less privileged position than I am but it has come with a price.

‘But I love you. Please don’t do this.’ I say in return and I see a revolution taking place within him, the unbearable heaviness, and the uncivilised nothing of an echo vibrating like a shell casing. Something is let loose and communicated to me. Something bittersweet and sour. I return to love, loss and the elated respect I have of both of them. There is something within both the innerness of the tools for eternity (there is no physical body required for eternity, only the spirit, the soul, and kindred). There is an equilibrium in the territory of the emptiness sometimes found in a human vessel after the sexual transaction and a symphony. Rhys’s transactions and now I have become somewhat like her. I think that I have lost myself in the final analysis the desire to become desirable once more to my wife.

What would Moses do? I would not be able to pick up the telephone and call him up. He would pray in the wilderness history he found himself in. There was nothing else he could do in the circumstances he found himself in. He had a flame within himself that burned bright. Romance well what can I say besides what a harsh experience that was. It was hellish. Love is a posed interlude, a pause between two acts, oh how it changes everything about a bleak world experience, materialism, values, poverty, and that prime commodity of spirituality. You will be as beautiful to me now as you will be in old age. I will remember you, hope for you, and that this romance will go forward and go on and on but my soul lies in South Africa where the pain of the mind can be more devastating, felt more acutely than the pain of the body.

What taints the pain of a child feeling that another sibling has taken her place and overshadowed her. Let me now investigate that distillate, those golden signals, and the limits of the events in my life. My wife’s energy lifts me up, loosens pressures that the stranglehold of depression has over me. She is tender. She is transcendent. She is still this white bird in a paradise although I am unstable and romantic. Swimming against this kind of current is not a sin. What good is intelligence if it doesn’t tell you what and how to function, how to hold your breath when you are in good company, and especially when you’ve had enough of this world, all the inglorious parts of it. I am a blue man. I mean, if depression were a colour what colour would it be? Would it be blue?

As I am growing older, I am becoming kinder. Kinder to my wife, my children and myself. I mean that is what really counts at the end of the day, is it not? Do I sound boring? It must be the age of illness talking. It must be the years that I am sculpting out of comaed time, of mental faculties talking. There are many ways of dying, as there are just as many ways of living. I want to live. I choose to live. I am not stuck with the clumsiness of humanity when it comes to the attractions of writing about it. The being of beauty, the becomingness of wonder, and damn ugliness of it all. My wife, my white bird is my winter light. She is my winter guest and it is her tenderness that gives me the edge. She is my innovative collaborator, muse and goddess. She has been there throughout my silence. As we watched, our children grow up into adults. There is a dignity of love there between the both of us.

The threads of which communicate still so vividly between us. We are still a couple. We still laugh as if we are teenagers. She chose to follow the hard route with me. The one that did not come with the exit sign. She puts the ‘human’ in humanity, human being and human relationship although I was the first one to use the word love. My delicate wife, my charming wife, my wife who burns the cooking pots. My wife who eats oatmeal in the morning. Our relationship has been a delicate process. I knew from the minute I saw her I wanted to marry her. In her early twenties, on a visit to her cousin in Port Elizabeth, the year escapes me but believe me it was many moons ago. Decades. I did feel a grim isolation many of the times in the human relationships that I had.

I always felt that I had to perform, accomplish and perhaps that is why a many people think that I am complex. As much as I failed at something or quit it, I also excelled. I performed excellently. These years have just flown by and I am still dreaming. The most important lesson that I have learnt is to have gratitude for the celestial navigation, for all of those breathing lessons, the ones underwater, the ones I have learnt while swimming and holding my breath at the same time. I have goals too but most of all I am still a dreamer who loves people. I have to work on being kind though. That is the hard part. That is the struggle.

I am still alive and the world is beautiful. I am no longer that tragic figure. I am home embraced by my wife, my family and most of all my children.

I no longer answer to the name Persephone.

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Emanuel Paparella2015-05-24 14:53:58
Indeed, working at being kind may be the primary spiritual struggle of every Self which makes intellectual and physical struggles pale in comparison… and accepting and loving one’s Self may be a prior requisite for loving the Other. A wise man in Palestine many centuries ago advised to love one’s neighbor as one's self as one journeys through life and writes a story about it, but paradoxically he also said that to find one’s Self one has to lose one’s Self. He also said "let those who have ears, let them hear."

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