Patrick White (September l5, l948 / Campbell River, British Columbia, Canada)
The Grave Up Ahead Hasn't Chastened My Longings
The grave up ahead hasn't chastened my longings,
nor joy become an offence to the probity of death.
Life's not a protocol I'm trying to master
to approach the eternal orthodoxy in good form.
It's important to bow up once and awhile to keep
your gratitude from growing reflexive. Time
might be the shedding serpent that was generated
like a wavelength out of my flashbulb of a skull,
but I've always kept a good enough grip on its head
to feed it its tail with no fear of being bit. Besides,
who's ever known from the very beginning
whose hour this is for anyone though we blithely assume
we're all living co-terminously. The Pre-Cambrian
just as it is now existed in the Renaissance
or the Middle Ages among the Pre-Raphaelites.
Cosimo Medici greets Dante Gabriel Rossetti
passing through the bus station, eras striating their minds
like glaciers, Viking runes on the back of the mirror.
I analyze my lust sometimes when I think of you.
I muse upon time as a fountain and a gutter in the same breath.
No waterclock is flowing the wrong way.
Winter stars in the heart of the green apple.
Crocuses under the snow. Like our senses, eventually
I came to understand that all four seasons
are wholly focused without distinction on now.
And now can burn a hole through your skin
the size of a third eye if you're not careful.
But as Janis Joplin and Dogen Zenji said
seven hundred centuries apart,
the lucky day is when you discover it's all one day.
And ever since I've been living this moment as if
it were the afterlife of forever and even meeting you
where the rubber hits the road, the print hits the paper
like a graffiti kind of shorthand, seems to me
written in the indelible hand of the unscripted evanescence
that mingles my mind and heart like blood and ink
in the inexhaustible watershed of my art.
Dreams of you. Fragrances of emotion
from these sidereal wildflowers rooted
along the mindstream that gets to where it's going
with no hand on the rudder or wind in the sail.
Are those daylilies or wild irises in your flames?
Deadly nightshade in the umbrage of your eclipse?
How many burning bridges did you have to cross
in the shape of a crucified swan
to get here like the Milky Way without dying?
Pandora's box or the Pierian spring of the muses,
beatific desire in the fire of the witchcraft of love,
or was I born a ghost too late
to attend upon you like a seance,
to get you humming to my unearthly resonance
like the witch hazel of a tuning fork
divining water that breaks
its vow of silence on the moon
to reveal the secret of life is a woman's body
when she reveals it like a sacred syllable
to open your eyes down to the blood roots of her rose?
I taste the air, and I can sense the enormous vulnerability
that is the inversely proportional index
of how potentially dangerous you are to anyone
who hangs their heart like raw meat
on the first and last crescents of your claws
like a sacrifice to ensure an abounding harvest,
like a lure to a mermaid that's never been caught.
Who could take hold of you like the moon by the earth?
The golden fish that swims from one extreme to the other,
depending on where it's being looked for,
jumps into the drifting lifeboat by itself
the same way apples fall into your lap
with no intention on the part of the wind
to knock them down. Whenever I intuit your presence
as if a room just walked into a person,
you're always such a windfall
stampeding through my gut
like mass amorous extinctions making a comeback.
Neuronic lightning flashes along my axons
like the discharge of a high voltage cloud of unknowing
illuminating the black mirror of the midnight lake
that sees everything through its third eye like a sky
whispering stars intriguing enough to make you
want to overhear their voices like fireflies of insight
that can't be attributed to any sign of the zodiac.
And as far as I can tell from what I've heard so far
you could be the proto-nostratic grammar
of a new mother tongue with the grassroots vocabulary of a star
I have to leave more space in my heart than my eyes
to reach out and touch as if even my ashes
were still the green initiate of these immolations
where the mystery burns like a dragon in love
to prove its heretical innocence, and everything
is only as sacred as its taboo is revealingly dangerous.
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