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Under World Under World
by Abigail George
2012-02-21 07:46:56
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Of the brutality of my illness ‘Iris’ is left in the corner. Love me up. Fill the void. Nothing, nothing ever seems to.

Iris the poet

I’m a formidable workwoman, workhorse by nature and an experimenter of sorts. Isn’t every poet? I am also deeply moved by art, I have a passion for work, I am attracted to the vital energy of love, death and consciousness, God and movements, observations, spirituality. I hope to speak about life in my poetry, about how it anchors me when I need to be, when my thoughts need to be reigned in and anchored and how it frees me in another sense, another world. This world that I reach out to, speak about and come into contact with is the world that finds itself in communities. Here neighborhoods occur of parallel dimensions of the meditative union, of feeling the nature of a supreme being, of the whole of familial love, the drama, greatness of life in poetry and how it is acknowledged, the dream sequence of dream sequences in words. I celebrate the private self of the Outsider in verse, the loneliness the Outsider feels, the blank pressure, the threshold, and the inclinations.

Iris again

I often feel outside of myself in crowds, sitting in the car in traffic or even when I am by myself with the still, small voice, that internal monologue as if I am having an out of body experience without my permission. But I firmly believed that it came with the territory. Poets must suffer, must brave the storms of tragedy, must deal with the blows life deals them, and must learn to be, jive and jest. They must learn to amuse themselves on their own. Poets are roses wrapped (trapped) in glass vases. What do you do in an empty space except to expect the complex, paint it in diverse colours and patterns? How do you go about organising it into a meaningful whole? Look, even my scars from childhood, youth, the country, and the personal attack of city-life are pure and the waste of the elegant wasteland inside my head. Even though I have a constant craving to put away the sun in a rain cloud of rage.

Iris flowering after sickness and a funeral

The tall grass was like moving pictures amongst the glowing ochre. It’s written on us, isn’t it? I can feel the solitude in a leaf, when trees whisper to each other, in the afterglow of twilight, that warm and balmy haze speaks to me, all the summer in it. I’ve lost all of them now that she has passed on. There’s a disconnection on the telephone with all of them. I have nothing to say to any of them. My aunt is dust now or an angel, stimulus or an impulse, a thought or a living in a dream world and I have been left on my own to flower, to adventure into the greatness of the unknown, its brutal and aggressive nature. I know something of those tokens. I must remain vigilant of the occurrence of mania; the mass of contradictions that arises with euphoric highs that explodes into life behind my eyes. It hustles me swiftly from stillness to the multiplicity of madness. I didn’t say good bye properly. I didn’t cry. 

Iris (wishing that her sister would speak to her) and Gracie on the telephone

‘We need the money. I’m just asking because we need it.’
‘I don’t know what you want me to say.’
‘Okay Gracie (but I am just trying to sum it up the best way I know how). Thank you for listening anyway.’
‘Okay then. Bye.’
‘Goodbye (why do you have to be so cruel).’

The measurement problem

‘Daddy, I told myself I wouldn’t telephone her.’
‘But you did.’
‘I know but it was a mistake. Mummy’s side of the family they’re all toxic for me. The being of the stigma of all mental illness is toxic. I don’t want to have anything to do with them and that’s my final say. Say I won’t telephone her again. Please, just say it daddy. Help me.’

Welcome to Iraq

‘You can work.’
‘So you’re saying I’m lazy.’
‘Bipolar hasn’t stopped other people.’
‘Who are these ‘other people’? You mean people who come from money, who were raised to be good citizens? What do (the bloody hell dammit I am not a child you’re talking over) you mean exactly by those words?’

Adam’s Wish for his daughter Iris

‘If you say you won’t Iris then you won’t. It’s as simple as that. What more do you want me to say?’
‘It’s as if Gracie is saying bipolar is my self-inflicting wound. As if I asked for it, that it’s my fault. Of course I’m not expecting her to take responsibility to live my life for me. People don’t change. Materialism is important to her. Lip-gloss is her god. How can I have a conversation with someone that I have nothing in common with.’

Catching ghosts by putting bags over their heads

In those days nobody spoke of mental illness. It’s not as if people are talking about it now. They’re writing about it, the wreck of its torment, its oppressive gestures and perhaps the physicality of it but it is still spoken in a hush. It is driven with hands and clenched fists behind closed doors into a private realm.  There are no shortcuts when it comes to dealing with ghosts. You have to face them high, head on and with your chin up.

The invisible interpretation of inventing Sylvia

For all her life Gracie treated her sister’s as if she was a walking-taking-productive-functioning-disease. She was a cold and disenchanted pale figure of heat and red dust, scaling the walls of the netherworld of photography under world and sky. She walked with her Nikon around her neck a fraudulent poser. If she was pretty or lovely, fair or beautiful she knew it. She would never be my silver lining. She would always let pensive little me burn in her shadow. I have got so much more to live for. My mother’s mood is patient. She waits for the perfect moment to despise you, to kill you with a look or to catch you off guard. I believe she is never truly unkind without a purpose in mind. Ah, there is Sylvia, at her most feverish, most high and elevated to her pure height of mother when all her children are present, therein lies her mysterious destruction that is immortalized by its authentic twists, narrow paths.

Aspects of Iris’s Mind and Poetry

I will forever hold images of men, the strange memories that I have of them, the things of men as close to my heart as I hold my breath. They have been the ones who have shaped me culturally and otherwise. If it hadn’t been for them, their airs, dalliances into a cold and cruel world, their sometimes unforgiving domination, their force of control, their hierarchy I would not have the peace of mind I have today and that I am committed to keeping at all costs. The weather report, the heat and the rain. That’s all we ever seem to talk about. We have nothing to say to each other. I am surrounded by cat-eyed, blood-dripping women that I no longer stalk, no longer wish to have anything to say to. Women who are aunts, daughters, cousins and that most obscene word to me, they are mothers with children who are learning to talk, act, respond to the world around them like their mothers. God help us all.

Dialogue between two women who are getting older

‘Is it hot out there?’
‘Is it raining?’
‘Are the lights out?’
‘How are you?’
‘What did you cook today? Is there a fire burning in the kitchen?’
‘What’s the weather like/the traffic like on the roads?’
‘Did you deliver flowers today?’
‘Can I talk to my mother, please?’
‘Just hold on one second. She’s in front. What are you guys doing?’
‘We’re doing nothing. Nothing as usual.’
‘I know you like to sleep late (its afternoon). Did I wake you?’

Iris and Neil

Shall I write a poem and compare your face to the sun. First on the list of terrifying suspense – Neil held my hand tightly in his. Nostalgia is searching through an album where my funny face is completely unrecognizable.  I saw the moon this evening and I was grounded and composed by the stars in the sky. In one afternoon, I was swallowed up whole by a hike. We climbed over rocks, our spirits renewed by the sense of adventure. We washed our hands after our picnic lunch in a cooling stream. Memories are made of this. I wish that you were here with me now. I want to show you this book I found at a second-hand bookstore that I have already reread four times. I wonder if you will feel grieved at the same places I did at the decisions the hard and successful characters made.

Iris on Art

Art mirrors life. Hellish art mirrors hellish life. The gifted (the most gifted at this time in history) youth and young at heart are fighting through the medium of art. Writing is art. Poetry is art. Art is art. To protect our legacy we must make history and end poverty. The higher powers, the powers that be, government, authority figures must push through the segregation issue. We, Africa (our country), the world, we are all crying to be born again. Art can generate a sense and a sensibility of self-worth. With climate change and the wreck of the recession that has hit all of us like a freight train there is a sense of an ending but this also means that there is the familiarity and explicit recognition of a novel beginning. Exposing the self to the magic and the psychological-bent to art constantly, driving its core and the very force that is has as it plays a pivotal, empirical role in society just means that now it is necessary for us to move from consciousness to consciousness like a riverbed drowning in the ocean-sea.

Notes on loneliness. And when I go to sleep it is there and when I wake up it is still there. A half-dream that slips away and all at once it is in reach. I can feel it, I can't see it but I can sense it intuitively. I can't explain why. I can't explain this quantum leap.

Read the other chapters

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