Patrick White (September l5, l948 / Campbell River, British Columbia, Canada)
Yes, I Left You, Crying In The Nude Like Inspiration
Yes, I left you, crying in the nude like inspiration
at the end of the driveway while the trees
were tearing up a manuscript of leaves
they’d written like silver Russian olives for the moon.
I could hear you trying to smudge my name
like the misbegotten house of the zodiac
from the blackboard of your teaching starmap
several Magellenic Clouds down the dirt road
swearing my first magnitude stars were all tinfoil
not worth the light they were confederately printed on
as I drove away like a space probe into the dark,
trying to keep ahead of my own prophecy
and never come back, no, never like a chimney spark
to that smouldering fire that never broke into flame.
I wept in the smoke of your acrid oak
that hissed and bubbled like spit from a cobra’s mouth
long enough. Go, little woman, like a landmine
that thinks everybody’s dying to step on you
all the time and have their arms and legs blown off
listening to you apologize for not recognizing me
even though I called out that night’s pass word,
love, love, love as if I weren’t behind enemy lines,
as you stitched my body parts back together
like a prickly pear or spiny sea urchin with a defensive attitude,
trying to shine your best light on it like a candle
in a concentration camp you held my feet to
like birch bark and a funeral pyre of kindling
to the heat of your fireproof desire to be inflammable.
Yes, I left you, with your mouth gaping with incredulity
like the larger land mammals at the end of the last ice age
glorying in the freedom of their new found extinction
like a Dyer wolf pack tired of howling at the moon
that kept turning her back on them like lunatics
that couldn’t carry a tune like that chip of a bluebird
you carried on your shoulder to piss the world off.
The buzzing of innumerable onomatopoeic Tennysonian bees
isn’t a guarantee that your locust trees are full of honey.
Or the bulb of the moon you buried in my starmud
like a prophetic skull you never wanted to listen to again
was always the best judge of the daylilies that kept
breaking into flame between us like a rootfire of unquenchable sex.
Even when my lighthouses were turned thumbs down
on the latest of our famous west coast shipwrecks
I was only ever trying to put the torch of stars I bore for you
out in a tarpit with the eyes of a volatile dragon
to get you to spread your wings like a field fire
that knew how to green the short straws of a scarecrow
at a ghost dance that could rain on the ashes of everything
we wanted to bring back to life again and again and again.
Because when you said yes to being loved, firefly,
your light was inextinguishable and I could feel in my blood
as I approached you like a heretic the axis mundi of the stake
he was happy to immolated at like a Luna moth driven mad
by a female jinn enflamed by desire without smoke,
a thousand buddhas regretting they ever escaped suffering
by refusing to climb a ladder of thorns for the sake of the rose
they uprooted like three wishes any one of which
could annihilate you in joy wholly absorbed
in the false dawn of nirvana the distinction was lost upon.
You could overwhelm my body at will from the inside out
with the spell you cast on my blood like a hunter’s moonrise,
a lotus unspoiled by the slum she was rooted in
like enlightenment in a swamp of delusion
where the snakes swallowed the frogs like koans
head first until all their cannibalistic taboos
reversed the course of the curse and started
speaking in tongues of serpent fire like kundalini haikus.
I bent the blade of my sword in tribute on the waters of life
I had tempered it in like an igneous alloy of carbon and iron.
Night and blood. The mysterious appeal of a woman in hell.
Not so much dangerous because she was beautiful.
But beautiful because she was a risk I had to take
as she, for her sake, so an angel could fall from paradise
and a demon could rise from the underworld of half-lives
that could look the light straight in the eyes
like a black hole or full eclipse that was never the first to blink
when she spread her cowl like a Venus fly trap
and began to dance like a wavelength for my prophetic skull.
More Orphic, I think, than Judaic-Christian served on a silver platter.
I’ve always preferred to wane gibbously past my prime
like a ghost returning to the scene of my lyrical dismemberments
to add a few light touches, metaphorically, like star sapphires
to the mystic ferocity of the dark desires in the eyes of the myth.
Comments about this poem (Yes, I Left You, Crying In The Nude Like Inspiration by Patrick White )
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