Patrick White

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

I Would Miss You Were You Not So Deep Inside - Poem by Patrick White

I would miss you if you weren't so deep inside.
I would send the fireflies out like a search party
to beat the bushes and the stumps to see where you hide
were you not the stars within that lead me home.
I would cry out in anger and tears, World, you are not fair,
were you not the mystic intimate of my indignation.
I would look upon the illuminated world
thriving in its garden, and accuse the sun of being blind
did I not see more in your eclipse, the abundance
of your darkness, than I do by the vacant light of day.

Let others bathe like birds in the fountainmouths
of happier lyrics, I drown in your watershed,
a starfish on the moon, and the darkness shines
like a nightsea the colour of your eyes. And there's a sky
full of shipwrecked constellations without lifeboats
that went down into fathomless time with all hands on board
like a cargo of bones that reached its destination
by giving them all up to you, like yarrow sticks
to the Book of Changes, whether you read them as such or not.
Nine in the fifth place. Enlightenment in hell.
I am the nightwatchman with the moon for a lantern
that strikes the bell of his heart three times and says
all is well, all is well on the bottom of the sea.

I would be planting supernovas like a terrorist with i.e.d.s
in the Milky Way by now to add to the chaos
were you not the black hole of a galactic inspiration
that's mastered me like a magic latent in the heart
to burn the sum of all my destructions in a blaze of insight
by which the light is known to the light, the way
a tree is by a breeze, or ashes know the fire's out.
How could I reach out to you except with your own hands?
How could I speak to you in any way you'd understand
did not your voice coax the words from my mouth
like a dream grammar of sacred syllables betokening
the things of the earth like the echo of a prayer we forgot?

Too intimate to be the principle of anything
and yet your impersonality can only be approached
with tenderness, like a feather floating through space,
or the cloud that grounds the mountain like the cornerstone
of a temple to the emptiness it floats upon.
Were you not the valley my grieving shadow wanders through
like the lachrymose theme of another lonely psalm
trying to palm itself off as poem, how could the eagles
shriek eureka in the heights at the very next insight
into the nature of your vulnerability moving down below?

We might both dance to the same music as if it were true,
but you're the silent witness when I listen to the wind,
you're the charmed locket of darkness the light conceals,
you're the secret jewel that's wholly transparent
to all the eyes in the universe that have spent their lives
looking for you like a sky that's been hidden from sight
right over their heads and under their feet
like an atmosphere and ocean that never left the moon.
Even here on earth, the silver fish are frenzied in your tide.
Lunar horses graze like waves on your seagrass
and run wild when you spook them like an ocean
with a bit in your hands, and the look of an angry teacher.

If your absence were not deeper than my solitude
how could I resist the consolations of oblivion
and carry on as if I'd never missed you? Who
would I long for to affirm my presence in this emptiness
that engulfs me like an eye with something in it
like a star that can't be washed out? I was not
born a warrior to surrender to anyone less than you.
I do not open my heart and my mouth to sing
lullabies to houseflies growing dozy on the windowsills
as the cold comes on like the sheet music of ice.
Who would I dedicate the works of my nightshift to
like the journal of a dark demon writing to himself
about the spiritual intricacies of jumping from paradise
just to meet you naked in the garden again
as if we were born to be exiled together by the pain
that is visited like swarms of killer bees upon those
who break taboos like white canes over our knees
and throw their cornerstones around like dice
to entice blind luck into taking a chance on their disobedience?
Who would inherit the crazy wisdom of my human divinity
if I did not know how many lives you'll outlive me
like the randomness of an alibi based upon a truth
that reprieves everyone from death on desolation row
by undermining the limits of our culpability with compassion.

You, the sorceress of meaning, you, the beast mistress
of my savage emotions, you, the fire sylph at the hearth
of my homeless wandering into these evictions of self
that bury the days with no names on their graves.
You shake the lightning like a spear of fury in a lion's skull.
You wake the dragon from its dream of lotus fire
You touch me on a night when nothing else will
as if I were real, and the solidity of my atoms sublimates
like a ghost of dry ice into a mirage in space
so I could see in the grand paradigm of things
even the most enduring pyramids in a desert
are the work of the wind when the mind is inspired
to move things around like the grave goods of the heart
in the hands of a tomb robber that frees us of them
to travel light without baggage through the gates of Orion.
The past has no need of any other afterlife than the present
nor the future the prelude of a promise of better things to come.
Born into a life with a ferocious childhood for an introduction,
I have grown young again in the ashes of those fires,
like a skin transplant of flowers over a burnt face
to hide the scars, and give the stars some space.


Comments about I Would Miss You Were You Not So Deep Inside by Patrick White

  • Dean Meredith (6/1/2012 9:03:00 AM)


    Thx Patrick, you're an amazing poet. (Report) Reply

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Poem Submitted: Thursday, May 31, 2012



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