Patrick White

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

Hidden Jewels In The Ashes Skinless As Light - Poem by Patrick White

Hidden jewels in the ashes skinless as light.
It's a big place when you only see it through your eyes,
but see it through your heart, and even
your deepest tears are a wound shy
of the bell of silence that overturns the fountainmouths
of even the most efflorescent of the arts
so many paint on their windows so as not to see it.
It's crucial to be a sincere sword in any holy war,
but how rare it is to meet anyone with
the courage of their clarity to peer beyond that
and look up at the stars from a dark, open field
and see, despite the way the light shatters like chandeliers,
we're not living in a world of broken mirrors.

You can look into the eyes of the dragon
that weeps like rain. You can feel compassion
for flying reptiles and then you can kneel
at the end of the futon in front of the beaming window
and add your own ray of light as if your were humanizing
prismatic power mandalas through an antique kaleidoscope
by adding your eyes to the sand painting the next moment
is going to be erased at the zenith of fulfilment
and all the apple bloom like the circus tents
of the enlightened clouds and clowns,
are going to blow away, as if time weren't
just the younger sister of space, but a kind
of sad, lyrical wind as well that keeps
shedding our lifemasks like the petals
of the wild roses and the wings of the flying ants,
as autumn comes looking for the maple keys
that could unburden your heart and sweeten your sleep
like a windfall of the fruits of life that replace it all
with a better return journey than when you went into exile.

Mentored by suffering the improvised myths of our origin,
keeping our third eye on the twists and turns
of the washboard road we're driving home on,
not to be surprised about what's around the next bend
or the rock like a hidden chip on a soft shoulder
waiting to be knocked off, wondering if life
has just provided you the occasion
to love again as inexhaustibly as you once did,
as if someone's just uncovered you like a hidden housewell
or a buried telescope in a graveyard of famous constellations
with an afterlife of born again stars, you turn a corner,
bemused to be alive, as if you'd forgotten the feeling,
and your truly surprised, startled even, when you look to your left
that there's a field, half-returned to the bush, beyond a cedar rail fence
patched by lichens that look like the seas of the moon
eclipsing their wounds as if time really could heal all things,
and the last of the common mullein were flowering
out of an urgent dream just before dusk, and the light,
I swear the light was making making everything
glow like effulgent honey, as the leaves on the trees
were on the verge of burning, and the goldenrod
and the purple loosestrife stood out like complementary colours,
mutually enhancing hot spots on the wheel of birth and death,
and the star clusters of New England asters
and blue chicory blooming by the side of the road
like floral prototypes of the new starmaps as the night comes on,
each as original as the last, and you're mystically entranced
even in passage, of how reality, even in the midst
of its dissolution, can sometimes take your breath away
with the beauty that's immanent within us all revealed
spontaneously like a stranger at the open gate
swinging on its hinges of hello and good-bye
that I took as a sign this was always the right path to be on
after all these light years of driving through the dark on my own.

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Poem Submitted: Thursday, August 23, 2012

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