Patrick White (September l5, l948 / Campbell River, British Columbia, Canada)
The Night That Heals The Broken Day
The night that heals the broken day.
The dark that mends the shattered lamp.
The moon that salves the puncture wound.
The star that welds the injured eye
into a stronger bond than the original vision.
The silence that tempers the battered heart
in its own tears like a sword of light it fell upon.
The word that tends the forsaken voices
in our ears, like water whispering
into a dry wishing well on the moon
or bees and hummingbirds come like shibboleths
and sacred syllables to the larkspur and hollyhocks.
Down by the river where there are no mistakes
I can sense the long sorrows of the willows
making preparations for spring. The dead branch
troubled by a dream of leaves it didn't expect.
The ancient hills washing their own corpses
laid out against the skyline like anonymous chthonic gods
led out of the labyrinth of their watersheds and roots
by melting snow welling up in their eyes
like the first signs of life coming out a coma of permafrost.
There's a renewed hope in the lyrics
of the night birds exorcising the echoes
and mirages of this albino desert of ice
from their leprous solitude growing back
new limbs and flightfeathers at the approach
of the vernal equinox, moved to sing more earnestly
for reasons quite beyond them
because there's no logic among the muses
anyone can follow like music rationally for very long
without getting lost in a starmap of metaphors
like a field fire burning off the short straws
in the hands of isolated scarecrows on nightwatch
all winter long, as Virgo offers them all
another chance to feel the wind caressing
an ocean of starwheat again like a new riff in the urn
of a greening guitar sprouting out of its ashes
like the first note of orchards, windfalls and harvests to come.
Soon the sun will treble the clefs
of the wild grapevines like tendrils
and the mushy raspberry flesh of the old women
grow firm again and the green-stick fractures
in the hospitals of the birch groves
raise their branches up to the sky
like wands of wine witching for stars.
And the young will be exhilarated by seeing
everything for the very first time
like new lamps for old and the geni within
understanding why it's cast aside by their elation
will smile with the affectionate wisdom
of a third eye that's been watching
this riot of apple bloom and trout lilies for light years.
And the rain will root like wild columbine
on the skulls of the moss-pated rocks
and the cochineal crocuses in the dilated pupils
of the wide-eyed snow will put their petals
together in prayer like eyelids appealing
to a stranger in passing like white water
over the rocks in the wake of his heart
and say, hey, mister, please, we could use those tears
if you've got no further use for them. Come here
and help us turn the waterwheels of the eternal recurrence.
Or lend us your breath, if you've forgotten what it's for
to enhance the shining tenderly burning in our starmud
by blowing on the kindling of the fires of life
like a volunteer arsonist attending a nesting pyre
of yarrow sticks from the Book of Changes
we can lie down upon like the phoenix of the sumac
refeathering its skeletal wings in fledgling flames.
The ant that repairs the tunnels and doorways
of its snow-covered barrow to let the light dispel
the shadows from the bone boxes of its dead
like a stem cell happy to be at work again.
The red-tailed hawk repairing the burnt rafters
of its last sky burial by shouldering the wind
upon its shoulders as if the earth weren't
such a heavy burden to bear as it sometimes seems.
The scarlet cardinal that kept the memory
of lost poppies alive like the lantern of a dream
burning in the windowsills of long, dark nights
of returning one day like a prodigal
to the firepits of hell to discover
they've been sown by the dipeptides of meteors
like circular gardens bordered by
Martian fieldstones lying like the kissing stones
of black Kaabas in Antarctica to celebrate
the renewal of life and the return of the light
to the radiant gateways of the trilithons of Stonehenge
where any place you shine like a firefly on the horizon
face to face with the night is the true direction of prayer.
The pine that sweeps the needles from the stairs
like the rusty eyelashes of shipwrecked compasses.
The blue shift of the Canada geese beating their wings
like a drum circle of wavelengths on the eye of the lake.
The garter snake that slept for an eternity
with its tail in its mouth ungnarling the knots in its hair
to seek its own equilibrium like water
in the tree rings of a warmer rain
rippling through archival calenders
like a higher frequency of life in its heartwood.
The thorns that stung like locust trees
beginning to take down the Chinese lanterns
of the hives of the paper wasps and replace them
with the blossoming pinatas of honey bees
singing in a beatific cloud of unknowing
to the metamorphic glory of compassionate mysteries.
The dragonflies drying their wings in the light
that wipes the tears from the eyes
of the rubble of fortune-cookies they emerge from
like gerry-mandered shrines of transformation
with stained-glass windows cracking like old paint
to open themselves as wide as they can
like an aubade of pagan totems at midnight
to the lifespan of the sun enlightening the moonrise
with prophetic fire flowering in the eye sockets of an eclipsed skull,
chandeliers of votive candles burning in the sacred niches
of a holy wall of secret messages riddled with nesting swallows
like waterlilies and love letters from the distant stars.
Breaking like the womb of a beaver dam
with the waters of life flooding the roads
we have to take to make our way here as we are,
the broken tea pot of Aquarius that mends
the continental shards of the rifts of old ostrakons
like Pangea in the spring with scars of gold.
Comments about this poem (The Night That Heals The Broken Day by Patrick White )
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