Patrick White

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

I Could Never Remember You In Garish Pacific Sunsets - Poem by Patrick White

I could never remember you in garish Pacific sunsets
or the luster of opalescent Ontario dawns.
These would be ill-fitting gowns, wrong
wardrobe of metaphors to clothe you in, you
who loved to wear the moonlight like water on your skin
and your heart like the blood of a black cherry on your sleeve,
that the rain, and I saw how hard it tried like a watercolourist,
could never wash out. When I looked
as deeply into the nightsky of your eyes as I could,
six thousand stars lavished on the dark to the naked eye,
I always saw a white tailed doe looking back at me
from the brindled woods where they opened into the starfields
and I let the silence surmise old dangers had made you shy.

I could never remember you as you were and fix
the image in amber like a butterfly in a paper weight
as time wept glacially by like an ice-age in an hourglass.
Shapely as the cedar candelabra of a passionate forest fire,
you were the elegant daughter of dragons, the willow witch
of your own desires, and you spoke to my body
in the occult languages you kept alive for the sake of the dead
who were always with you like voices in your sleep.

I put this albino abyss of a snowblind canvas on my easel
like the negative starmap of the nightsky I imagine
death to be, so the wind can colour outside the lines
of the constellations as you were fond of doing
with an elfin kind of glee like a happy bell
you'd hung around the neck of something bleaker
as you often did with your life as if you were
bending space to your will like a black hole
at the nave of your galactic prayer wheel
turning in the wind like the golden ratio of a sea star.

I paint you in the picture music of a wounded heart
punctured like a matador on the thorn of the moon
as I looked upon you haunting your solitude
and knew like the last crescent in the book
of waning scars, there were some roses
just too beautiful in what they'd made of their pain
to heal. The eyelids of black roses shadowed
by penumbral eclipses of carboniferous mascara.

The deepest starwells of our sorrows flower
into the most expansive fountains of compassion,
and what a tender champion the small things of the world
found in you. The starling under the windowpane,
the Monarch butterfly that just stopped like
a slim volume of poems, intact, at the moment of perfection
denying death its deconstruction, and those
dozens of shepherd moons that showed up
like the skulls of racoons and groundhogs in the grass,
relics of a tragic past you arranged like asteroids
on the windowsills of your studio like the eastern door
of an Ojibway burial hut you adorned with the feathers
of red-tailed hawks until the autumn moon
could free their spirits from their bones.

I could never remember you as a blue-jay
among the sunflowers, you were never as abrupt
and decisive as that. You beaded all parts
of the disassembled world into the flowing
of one long continuous wavelength of a rosary
like different skulls with a variety of names
for the same spinal cord of a narrative theme
that whispered, like your life, louder
than the savage sparrowhawks of your emotions
shrieking out in predatory pain and as I remember well
how your eyes would grow wider than owls
or the new moons of Spanish guitars
when you were astonished by the symbolic depths
of some black pearl of transformative wisdom
you'd discovered dreaming on the seabed of your heart
like a lunar eclipse among the feathered corals.

The red violet that lingers over a city on a cloudy night
and saturates the air with tinctures of iodine and diluted blood,
I will add that hue to the palette of your likeness,
and glaze the bricks in the sphinx gate of your moonrise
with ultramarine blue and fleck the lapis lazuli
of your nightsky with gold paint on the bristles
of a toothbrush to simulate stars pouring out of
the watersheds of Aquarius to cool the scorched roots of things
in sacred pools and fountains inextinguishable pain
found its way to as if you were some kind of Gothic cathedral
cratered out of the moon like a river of stone
that taught the outcasts and the damaged fruits of life
how to flow up the stairwells of their renewal
with the courage of wild salmon called home from the sea.

I knew it was crucial not to make a mess of my dying
the night you left, to honour the spirit of the life
we had lived together, to make the end
as charismatically intriguing as the beginning had been.
So something inspired by our separation
could keep growing beyond us like a bridge
where incomplete solitudes could meet as strangers
and say farewell to one another like full siloes
in the plenum-void, whole as the sun and the moon
who go on shining in the darkness of ten thousand lonely nightfalls
not as the undoing of the dawn in the broken mirrors of the stars
but as a way of housing the buckets and bells of their tears
under the strong rafter of the well by the locust trees
blossoming among its thorns in the spring to summon the bees
that once sang to us, as if honey had a voice so poignantly sweet,
however deeply gored the heart by the horns of the moon,
waxing or waning, full or eclipsed, it never left scars on the music.


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Poem Submitted: Monday, January 14, 2013



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