Firefly, What Are You Looking For? - Poem by Patrick White
Firefly, what are you looking for
in every corner of the third eye of the world?
Are you looking for the missing children
of another realm who fell into this one
through the trapdoor of a lullaby
enigmatically enciphered in totemistic code?
Are you the star someone was following
like a spark plug that leaked out of their dreams,
a swan in an oilspill? Were you unhappy
with the constellation you fell from
like one of the crown jewels from Corona Borealis,
or are you just a vagrant like me, one
of those aligned to wandering as the next place
to shine a little light on, your life like a lantern in hand,
wondering what's been written under the leaves,
or under a bridge, that it takes a madman to understand
or it takes a whole tree to play the mystery of its cards
so far from its chest, when they'll all be scattered to the wind
like ancient starmaps and waterlilies soon.
Insight, synteretic spark, semaphoric lighthouse,
blackout and ignition, which phase of you
shines more intensely, the light or the dark?
Do you just have the one good eye, or two?
It would take someone just as lost at sea in their awareness
to get their bearings from you, as it would
to consult the compass of a flower like a waterclock
because time, when it's free, like light,
expands in all directions at once like tree rings
dilating the apples of their eyes in the rain,
surrounding the lore of their heartwood with growing pains.
Metaphor, glow worm, do you find what you seek,
are you a chandelier burning in the palace
of a mason jar after the last waltz has packed away its cellos,
a tear of the sun that shines at midnight
like a canary in an underground diamond mine
or do we share the same mind, one neuron in the net
reflecting the other, an effect of the optics of thought?
Intimate familiar, little prophet, rogue planet,
singularity at the bottom of a black hole,
are you looking at me, as I am you
like a thought on the outside, an underwater welder
trying to heal the damage done to the hull of the moon
crossing the Great Barrier Reef of the brain?
Wavelengths of water and light sway the river reeds,
silver the fallen limbs of the statuesque birch
that leaned out too far over the edge of the lake
to pluck the moon from the sky like an apricot.
I watch the cults and spiritual congregations of the fireflies
gather, shape and dissolve, each with its own flight path,
and I wonder if there's a shape-shifting constellation
that would cover us all under the roof of the same sign
like a zodiac of homeless exiles we all had the keys to
but didn't know where the locks were hidden
until we took off our starmaps like blindfolds.
No extinctions in the gentle meteor showers
of the fireflies, nor any discernible radiant,
for them or me or the universe, given
everyone embodies the whole of the Big Bang
in and of themselves, just as the New England asters do,
everyone shining for all their worth
through the translucency of their own space,
even when they're trying to hide from their own eyes,
like daylilies at night, or the gold of full moons
under eyelids of ore, under the overturned lifeboats
of their beached hope chests that have nothing
to look forward to anymore that isn't any further away
than the telescope they use on top of a cold mountain
to measure the wingspan of their dreams.
The light will out as if it couldn't keep itself a secret
from the darkness it illuminates with its own flowering.
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