Patrick White

Rookie (September l5, l948 / Campbell River, British Columbia, Canada)

I Showed Up With A Rose


I showed up with a rose and you said
it was the wrong colour. I showed up
with my head on a silver platter
and you asked as you danced for another
where I’d buried my heart
like the last love affair of the summer
as I watched your body move
like the moon on a famous river
where others before me had drowned
like fish in a dead sea of shadows,
shipwrecks thirsting for the waters of life
you denied them like the taste of your reflection
in the oceanic deserts of their tears
as they died in a graveyard of wine.

I brought you the fallen leaves
of my latest book of poems like autumn
but you swept them off the thresholds
of your hidden doorways like junkmail
and said, yes, there’s fire in their longing,
but if I’m the muse who refuses you,
next time edge the razor of your tongue in blood.

I retreated like a hermit for awhile
into the severed candle of my solitude
that burned like a comet to return
on the day of my death in your eyes
like the last known address
of my homelessness on the lost gospel
of the loveletter I sent you lightyears from paradise.

O how much I couldn’t second-guess loved you then,
like a weathervane loves the wind,
how much I learned and took to heart
like the golden fossils of sorrow and regret
that lie buried like sundials and hourglasses
in the secret gardens on the moon
where I used to wait for you life after life
like midnight at noon when the earth
stood still and the light held its shadows
like a drowning man holds his breath,
like content delays the timing of its heart
until it’s too late for anyone to show up
like a water-gilder to mend a broken cup.

Submitted: Sunday, April 28, 2013
Edited: Tuesday, September 24, 2013
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