As Much As I Love The Stars - Poem by Patrick White
As much as I love the stars, I know
the spirit must seek its lost radiance
in the midst of the filth of this world,
even when its third eye is trying
to wash it off in tears it really means.
Under the half-closed eyelid
of the pine cone pagoda in oceanic meditation
is a fire-seed waiting for immolation
like an overdue urn about to give birth.
And do you see how the moon
feathers the waves with silver,
and the breathing waters so much
like the flesh of a woman undulating
under the caress of an unaccustomed hand
shines back like fish swimming through a starmap?
As above so below. Same with inside and outside.
Astrophysics is psychology. Noumena, phenomena.
Are you looking for a unified, field theory of your mind?
Study that small sacred syllable of a black ant
with the torn wing of a butterfly
under full sail in its mandible
it's taking back to the heap
of a thriving passage tomb burial
like a high card it's going to lay on the table
without intending to call anyone's bluff.
The moon on the lake isn't timed.
Death's not too late. Life's not too early.
Not all the flowers bloom at once
in a wave of mass hysteria at a sports stadium.
Time is as generous to the dandelion
as it is to the hyacinth or the rose.
When a total eclipse of the soul
can be as illuminating to a firefly
as the enlightenment of the full moon
can be to the mad at harvest time
and the night bird sings on the same branch
out of the same longing
as the mourning dove does
on the burgeoning bough,
how far must a wave look for the grail
before it realizes it's swimming in it
and by virtue of it having never been lost or found,
like the universe you're surrounded by
dipping its other wing in the cup you drink from
like blood from your own prophetic skull
or an elixir of love from the goblet of a black tulip,
as an antidote to falling into a cult of trances,
trying to teach rattlesnakes to ghost dance for rain
when everywhere you look as far as the eye can see,
nothing but the bleached bones of their vertebrae
crumbling like aqueducts across a sea of sand
looking for the holy hourglass to green it again?
When things are like this, why send
a caravan of mirages like thought-trains
on a pilgrimage for water on the moon?
Is a course correction more innocent
than its original direction or is it
just another change of heart on the part
of a weathervane that thinks linearly
it's got its hand on the rudder of the wind?
Best thing to do in a storm
is let go of the wheel of birth and death
and either go down with the ship like a constellation,
or trust in a bubble-shaped universe you still might float
like a turbulent waterlily above the turmoil of it all,
anchored to the bottom like a key on a kite
to lure the lightning to your spinal cord
the way copulating snakes make their own caduceus,
twin wavelengths from the same inner matrix
ascending like helical thermals under a dove's wings,
so that dragons are born of cosmic eggs
that know how to heal fire with fire
that can consume itself like life
without ever getting burnt out
even when autumn's coming on
and you can begin to smell
the smoke and ashes on its breath.
Enlightenment the inspiration of the search,
the spirit returns to the candle in your hand,
to dance with the flame of life within you
on your own threshold, in your own doorway as you realize
like someone waking up from a dream
in their own bed, their head on a softer pillow
than they imagined a moonrock could be
at one sixth the gravity of earth, what
was there to aspire to that could possibly be
higher and wiser than a cloud circling a mountain
or down in the valley where the stars slum
once they get off the night shift, more compassionate
than a honey bee in the eye of a stargazer lily
smothering it in a rusty ochre dust storm of pollen
the way we prepared our dead when we lived in caves
to bloom like a hive when its spirit returns to matter
in its next incarnation as a gust of wildflowers on Mars.
Hawkweed and Indian paintbrush I would think.
And the unusual fruits and flowers that can sprout
from a windfall of intensely radiant meteor showers
flung out of the darkness by the hands of generous sowers
that were ploughing the moon for themselves
long before the ox of the mind showed up
like the blessing of a delusional dependency
that makes you think, gone to seed, you need it.
When the truth has always been mindful
and mindlessly green as the thorns and the leaves
of the locust trees in spring coming into blossom
as easily as the mindstream follows its own lead everywhere
with nothing but its own flowing for a navigator.
No gate, no lock, no pivot, no hinge, no waterclock
trying to put the fire of life out in a bucket brigade
of community-oriented arsonists, departure
never any further off the beaten path from home
than its arrival can be lead astray
by the shadow of the return journey
it casts behind it like the widening wake
of a waterbird's wings unravelling
the flying carpet of the water that wove it
like wavelengths of the hidden harmonies
that are on your side like your eyes are
when you step out of the blazing house of life
once in a while, into the expansive solitude
of your own inimitably creative darkness,
without a candle, a firefly, a lightning strike
for a guide, and look up, just look up
in any direction you wish, and don't pick any one
of the six thousand stars you can see
with the naked eye in the country,
no matter you don't know their names
or myths of origin, or much about shepherd moons,
or what an antikythera is, then run around
looking for an underground circumpolar sage
to show you on a starmap where your shining is at
like the light of the star, though you cry
in bliss and sorrow, delusion and insight,
you can't wash out of your own eye
anymore than you can Venus in the dawn
when you're sitting on a mountain under a Bodhi tree
trying to attain the unattainable empty-handed
in the same breath that's been giving it all away
for light years, inexhaustibly, like a flower-mouth
of enlightenment in everything you say or do,
the world in the creative wake of whatever medium
that's shapeshifting into you like water into fish,
darkness into star, sky into a bird on the wing
in a homesick sunset, or the shining of the source
like the lantern in your hand you needlessly labour
at keeping lit to go look for it without realizing
it's your own blazing that blinds you to the gift
of what the darkness arrays before you like candles and stars
and nocturnal waterlilies opening like a new moonrise
amazed by the occult mystery of the fire that burns
in the subliminal watersheds of your fathomless eyes.
In this boundless space, why should you be surprised
behind all the masks of God, her best disguise
when the hidden secret wished to be known
and she revealed herself, was your own face,
your eyes, your mouth, your ears, your voice alone
pouring the universe like the light of picture-music
into your own ears like the spirit of a word
that can't be enlightened until it's been heard by you.
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