Patrick White (September l5, l948 / Campbell River, British Columbia, Canada)
The Words Make It Sound Breezy
The words make it sound breezy, but experience
chafes our visions of love as if it were sandpapering
our eyes with stars. Graduated grades of carborundum
grinding our parabolic mirrors into subtle refinements
no more than half an angstrom wide. So we can
see each other more clearly out in the open away
from all the light pollution. You want to see
God from this distance you’ve got to stand
on the top of an immaculately dark mountain and wait
or turning the light around meditate like an observatory
with an immanental self-reflecting telescope on clock drive.
Until you see the Beloved in a stillness and silence
deeper than your own solitude, the abyss within you
can’t be fulfilled by her presence resonating through space
and we remain as we were at the gates of her mystery,
intimate strangers with our own intelligence
because we long like nightbirds in the spring with our mouths
not our hearts set aflame like flowering stars.
You can research the sacred syllables of arcane dream grammars
until you can’t help but sing in kells of dragons and grape-vines
that bind your lyrics in golden tendrils as securely as chains
to the age they’re rooted in, as if now were all time to come,
but the wind knows the deserts of love better than to elaborate abstractions
beyond necessity. True blue star sapphire seekers travel light.
Love is tough. Not the downy fluff of a nebular flightfeather of light
you can brush off your shoulder like a snowflake
but the arc of an eagle-eyed arrow with an obsidian point to make.
The heart burns, it doesn’t smoulder like a tear-soaked loveletter
trying to get a fire started in the rain. It’s first mandate,
the acceptance of pain and courage in the face of happiness.
I’ve seen more cowards run from joy than fear.
Union is an oxymoron of the far come near. Love pours
stars in your ear like the flavours of dreams
you can taste on your tongue when you wake in the morning
urgent to write your love lyrics down like a falcon of blood
the hood’s just come off, and the dawn rising
like an English skylark that’s been nesting on the ground too long
trying to remember all the words to the song it used to sing
before it perched on the dead bough in the aviary of its voice-box.
Love is the white heal all of the moon in early April
not a way to rustproof the lilacs from decay nor yet
an hermetic science for mutating into the immutable
turning your back on evolution and change
like the first principle of a dead language in chains.
Or a miracle that’s outlived the ghost of its afterlife
like a candle watching its soul drift away like smoke.
The mystically specific details of love are not smudged
by mundane generalities blurring the starmaps with chalk dust
on the Burgess Shale of a blackboard fossilizing sea stars
inspired by a Cambrian explosion of alternative life forms.
From the alpha of the male to the omega of the woman
who gets the last word in like a farewell that says it all,
from the beginning to the end, love is always protean,
shapeshifting like stemcells repairing wounded hearts
like wishing wells the bottoms fell out of like buckets.
The bower of love isn’t a waterbed of writhing wavelengths,
not the warp and woof of a loom weaving snakepits
into a flying carpet the waning moon unravels at night
like a strong rope into a million sectarian threads
staking Gulliver to the ground in the Land of the Lilliputians.
Love isn’t petty like that. It’s fulsome in its shining.
It’s closer to your jugular vein than Occam’s razor
in the hands of God pruning roses in her secret garden,
not by the number of thorns they sport
but by the flagging eyelids of their dozy blossoms
that couldn’t stay awake long enough to see the moon rise.
Beware of love’s excruciating unconditionality
if you’ve never suffered transformatively in the name of it
and you’re happy enough o happy enough with the shame
of the truce you signed and sealed in the blood of a rose in the snow
that will never get to root deeper in your heart
than the permafrost that isn’t thawed by the hilarity
of the spring run off riding its own impetuosity to the sea
in the glee of daring the danger-fraught mystery
of whitewater rafting its own mindstream at the flood,
taking a chance your yellow, plastic, hockey helmet
might be dashed like the yolk of an egg on the rocks,
or overturned and swept out of the eye of the hurricane downstream
you’ll come up under a death trap of overhanging trees
and drown in your own odyssey beyond the Pillars of Hercules.
Could happen. So what? Love isn’t the slow erosion
of a cultivated lifestyle you’re hanging on to like a kayak
or a paper birch canoe gathering wild rice in the moonlight
for a wedding of warriors with the brides of a ghost dance
whose euphoria has been unwisely tempered
by a pragmatic approach to misery that surrenders the whole
heart by heart to the crows like bitter chokecherries in the fall.
Inspiratrix of scarlet maples when the trees burn
their poems in the bonfire of the vanities in an oil drum,
love isn’t consumed in the flames of its own intensities
but rides a dragon out beyond the wild starfields
where they pasture the winged horses they put out to stud
Libyan mares turning their backs on the north wind,
as if they were playing hard to get like gypsies in the caves
above Malaga, dancing to the snap of their lobster castanets
as they stamp their feet crushing hearts like cigarette-butts in disgust.
Sometimes love flaunts its freedom like a death sentence.
As the quality of the inestimable golden fleece
can be assessed by the character of the dragons
innocence summons to the nightwatch to guard it
like skeleton keys with a mouthful of tabooed eye teeth.
Whether you call it a spell or a force, love
is the strong magic that binds the atoms together
like shepherd moons alchemically experimenting
with the waters of life heated by the fumaroles
of volcanic puncture wounds hemorrhaging with life
like the black new moon of the Mithras bull
letting go of the rose that bloomed in its heart out of love.
A sacrificial silo of grain the snake and the dog and the scorpion
all partake of as if love fell like rain in a desert
on everything alike, as the pyramids melted like quicksand
or castles in the tide, and the wetlands of our starmud
were silted by alluvial flood myths in the deltas
of our Aquarian afterbirth that made it all the way
on the crests and troughs of her breaking waters to the sea
of sidereal awareness beyond the split hairs
of our distinctive nervous systems piloting our mindstreams
from conditioned consciousness into the creative extremes
of chaos thriving in the unlimited freedom
of immersing itself wholly in its own fathomless depths
without fear of drowning in a world that floats.
Comments about this poem (The Words Make It Sound Breezy by Patrick White )
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