Patrick White

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

You Have To See With Your Heart Into The Nature Of Life


You have to see with your heart into the nature of life.
Your eyes will only get you as far as the front porch.
Like a moth drawn to the light. Mesmerized by the brightness
but not shining by a light of your own. Crazy moth,
no one’s ever wrong it’s just a matter of degree, not
kind of right you want to be, the kind that’s blinded
by the dazzle of the radiance of your own blazing eyebeams
or the subtler moonrise of the longings that overwhelm you
with the haunting sadness of the unanswered nightbirds
that keep calling out to the stars as you do
like the ghost of a candle at a seance that’s gone out
so you can see better into the unknown darkness
that is as much behind you as it is ahead. Even

these blue-blooded words bleeding like the eyes of peasants
down this page, toys in the hands of the dead they’re buried with
deep in the past and not the Rameseum of royal magnificence
we built to last significantly like the starpath of a zodiac
yesterday walks on the plank of a straight and narrow tomorrow
for following its own mindstream through this life
of half-lights and shadows, the blue-greys and phantom greens
of the irises that beatify our pupils with the moondogs
of non-denominational, alla prima haloes around the blackholes
the visionaries among us who merely dream
keep pearl diving into like starfish reaching out
for the singularity of love on the bottom that makes them feel
as if they were resurfacing with it in another world
the same as this one, but unrecognized like a star
a dimension ahead of its light as everything passes into future.

Until you feel the lightning root in you like dendritic black matter
you transplanted in exile like a flower you brought from home
you’ll never see your own reflection in the black mirror
that shines brighter and deeper than the white one
that pales like the world in comparison with the dawn
of the sun that shines from within you at midnight.

Until you stop mistaking fireflies along the coasts
of consciousness for lighthouses you can navigate by
by letting the lifeboat on the shipwreck of life
you’re clinging to like a wooden mermaid at the bowsprit
take your height above the horizon for the right ascension
and declination of the interspatial, non-temporal direction
you’re turning into like a headwind without a sail,
you’ll always feel like a cult of pleading seagulls
winging it in suspended animation in the wake
of the rest of your life while the foghorns bellow
Jurassically in the tarpits of an alien shepherd moon.

And I won’t blame you if you don’t understand
what all these metaphors are trying so hard not to mean
as a way of leaving the door open for the light to get out
of that aviary you cover every night with an executioner’s hood
as if you were judging your voice by the imperfectible standards
of the lyrics you have yet sing on the green boughs
and dead branches of life that’s always making a comeback
like a has-been instead of swinging back and forth
like a trapeze artist afraid of heights on your perch
as you do when you come before me like a water sylph
acting as if you were some kind of pendulous, grandmother clock,
tick, tock, tick, tock, tick, tock, the dust on the windowsill
and you bored to death like a comet portending
you’re just another dead goldfish in a huge hourglass
of quicksand. Don’t let the panic of being young
dominate any stage of your life you’re on tour with at the moment.
And don’t insult me by thanking me for something
I haven’t given you. Everything’s of equal value
when you’re free to be as worthless as you please.

Submitted: Wednesday, September 18, 2013
Edited: Friday, September 20, 2013

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