Patrick White

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

If You Were To Give Me Your Hands - Poem by Patrick White

If you were to give me your hands, break your prayer
and offer each wing up to me, broken halves of the heart,
I would make one burning dove out of them
that would carry a ribbon of flame in its beak,
a comet in the night, a vision of life and love,
a message to God she couldn't ignore, a wild flower
that emerged out of the ashes of her abyss
like a star waking up from a bad dream
in the skies over the darkening hills of Perth.

If you were to give me your eyes for a moment
like the lily pads of two eclipses, I'd put my lips
to each of your eyelids like the kissing stone of the Kaaba,
and erase all memory of its igneous fall to earth,
and when you opened them at moonrise,
where I touched you, there'd be two waterstars
shining as if they'd just fallen from the Pleiades
among the waterlilies and crazy raptures of the nightbirds.

Spare me a tear, and I'll return it to you like an elixir
that will dye your grief like the palette of an autumn tree
that's been painting for years, a sidereal Prussian blue,
with a touch of alizarin crimson, to burn
like the subliminal passion of a dragon in the background.
And when the fish return to their sacred pools on pilgrimage
like water sylphs, even when your mindstream
breaks like a rosary into billions of separate beads
flowing over the precipice of your eyelashes into the void,
you'll be the bird that amazes the sun and moon
reflected in each of them as they are in your eyes
as you wheel like the phoenix of a double helix
with the Swan and the Eagle across a summer
of clear night skies casting the nets of their constellations
far and wide, like a spell that gathers them up like shepherd moons.

If you were to give me your breasts, your lips,
your arms, your legs, I'd come like spring to a landscape,
clouds and rain to the moon, a hummingbird
to the goblet of your body, water to a wishing well
full of stars and fireflies, even at noon,
that's just realized all she ever had to do was ask.
I'd make your flesh feel like the shores
of some vast sea of unexplored sensual awareness
and walk them like a beachcomber in a red tide
of radiant starfish pumping light into your blood.

I would not ask for your soul or your spirit,
knowing the eternal sky does not inhibit the flight
of the wild waterbirds startled off the lake,
and even the wind can't hold them for long
like leaves and kites, when autumn says it's time to move on.
But if you were to give me their chains,
I'd retool them into royal cartouches,
ellipsoid orbits, halos, and shield-shaped lozenges,
to distinguish your name, like a waterclock
in an hourglass of desert queens firewalking across the sky
by the Milky Way, as if you were on pageant
sailing up the Thames or the Nile in a barge of moonlight.

And should, never perish the thought, you see fit
to offer me your heart, not as a fortune-cookie
with a happy ending, but like the complementary colour
of the world's biggest emerald, or the red berry
to a crown of prickly holly leaves, never
would any of my thorns ever draw even so much
as a dropp of blood from you to gray the greening
of this lyrical innocence that sings in the urns of autumn
as if Eurydice raised Orpheus out of the grave for a change,
or wild geese carrying the souls of the dead south
out of a threshed cornfield under the first frost of the stars,
or awoke the Sleepers in the Cave, to a new age
that believes if you can't dream it with your third eye closed
it isn't real. It doesn't sail. It isn't champagne that's breaking
like a bottled wave against the bow of a moonboat
that's been in drydock long enough to heal its wounds
and drift down the mindstream of the muse
like a feather of life, with a leaf for a starmap,
a message of love, with no astrolabes or compasses up its sleeve
and a fleet of poems flying high over head across
the lifeless sea of shadows below, the crane bags of Hermes
reaching your delta where the river greets the sea of bliss
breaking into bloom like a third eye from its chrysalis,
a dragon at dawn, a planet in the sunset, a dream figure
that woke reality up from a firepit of illusion
like foxfire in the scorched roots of an old growth forest
where lightning sows the seeds of illumination
like fireflies and transformative storms of stars
under the heavy eyelids of the pine-cones
that have fallen into a deep meditation on the koans
that have rooted love like an unlikely windfall
of constellations, whether your walking on stars or their ashes,
in the unsalted soil of its own galactic immolations.

Comments about If You Were To Give Me Your Hands by Patrick White

  • (8/28/2012 2:26:00 PM)

    This is wonderful Patrick, oh how I have missed reading you (writing this comment even though you're no longer with us) Sincerely I have missed PH (Report) Reply

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Poem Submitted: Tuesday, August 21, 2012

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