The wild girl
I never look at my sister's photograph
Anymore. She's going back to Prague
at the end of August. I read Jean Rhys' novels.
Drown myself in Plath and Updike. Adeline
Virginia Woolf knocking at the door.
Nan, my grandmother, when she was
alive ruled our house, (the Russia House)
with a penchant for soup and hot tea
on rainy Sundays, nervous breakdowns
during spring, whenever distance lends
enchantment to the view. And so the
wild girl's autumn soul became religious.
Because she was always found in autumn.
Remember what God has already done
for you. Words that tasted like apricot
jam when you were little right down to
your liver and the red journey of your
crooked little heart. There was once a
sad country ruled by a lonely man and a
sad woman. They ruled with instinct the
wilderness with the back of their hands.
She would tell us stories. Portraits of when she was a girl.
The music in her house. The childhood sanctuary of her bedroom.
Nan also told us about her summer dad.
The winter woman who was her mother.
Whose hands were as cold as ice. It was
nan's paternal grandmother who baked
bread on Saturday evenings. Now it is
my father and I who bond over the poems
of Arthur Nortje. Eating Black Forest
cake. Licking the cream and jam off our fingers.
I was supposed to have married him.
She was going to get me out of the house.
She wanted me to have a life. The kind of
life that she had. Married with children.
Studies and babies with a husband and a degree.
But all I could see was fireworks and
tight budgets. Lovemaking. Sadness and
that I, my soul would be lost in those fireworks,
tight budgets, lovemaking, babies and sadness.
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