Patrick White

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

In The Moment Before Silence Breaks Water - Poem by Patrick White

In the moment before silence breaks water
like a thimble of oceanic consciousness
and the fish are jumping through the underside
of the moon looking for the dark side of their reflections
in the genetic waterclocks of time endlessly editing
the first draft of three quarks in a membranous monad
as the inflationary tendencies of the initial inspiration
cool down into molecules and space gives lead to the light,
I cast one long last farewell of a look
like a waterbird disappearing into the eyes of the void
that have never turned back like nirvana
to ever say good-bye to anyone, indifferent as smoke
to the path anyone takes away or toward it
as you realize you are the journey you're on,
you're the vehicle and the starmap, you're
the dream of getting somewhere that's making you up on the go.

Marvels and madness. The business of wonder.
Asylums crammed with star-shocked astonishment.
The exponential rush of knowledge, and, as always
the mysteries last to the dance, an innocent lover's slow advance
to embrace the novelties of this Cambrian explosion
of fractals and facts like the wavelengths of a suspension bridge
swaying between two crows' nests of straw. Memes
on the memomes, evolution, brutal genius, shaping space with thought
until matter itself is seen to be a translucent mode of sentience.
A dream of stars adrift like an empty lifeboat
in the wake of the path it takes without knowing
where it came from or where it's supposed to be going
over the edge of a black hole into the tunnels of love and death
with a whole new universe at the other end of a telescopic hourglass
where bliss makes its own molecules, and compassion
the heavier elements of our starmud deep in our sorrows.

Things of the world like a language without a voice
until you say them like a secret you've kept from yourself
in your heart of hearts, the ear of your ear, the eye
of your eye, so deeply intensified by your understanding
they begin to shine by a light of their own to say they're
as alive as you are to live as freely as they seek
the key to why they exist at all, as you do, to know this.
It's the longing of hunger that inspires you
to use what you have to seek what you're missing.
Content with what you have, ripeness is all,
you fall from the bough like a windfall of shepherd moons
to erect a provisional scaffolding to climb up again
and paint the creation myths of the constellations anew
in the crowns of the treetops washing in the underpainting.

No sailors in sight, life sings to itself like a mermaid on the rocks.
Out of the mouth of the mountain that wanted to speak
in a grammar of eagles and stars to the next peak over,
in a lyrical outburst of echoes, a valley was born to listen.
One star west, is one star east, one foot after another.
The humanizing of our solitude is deranging strangers at the gate
as the signs of life have become a matter of course,
and the miraculous doesn't know what to do for an encore.
Even if you don't, the mystery of your own life
takes you more seriously than your enquiries can imagine.
When a hidden secret wants to know itself
it looks at you in the mirror of your own awareness
and as much as you've been given a light to see by
is the colour of its eyes, the shape of its face, the curl of its mouth.

Looking into the mind like a telescope looks at the stars
and the stars look back like fireflies in the well of the telescope,
admit you're invisible, formless, and start from there.
Or you'll languish in the timeless eras before the Big Bang
without eternity to back you up. Ripples in the microwaves
of your cosmic background emanation, can you feel the pulse
of an ancient rain in your own veins, or did the golden fish
that eludes you jump into your lifeboat of its own accord
the moment you stopped tying lures to hook it on your questions?
Trickle or sunami alike, everybody makes it back like
a wave of the mindstream to the great night sea of their source.
Like an apple makes it back to the tree that abandoned it
like a god, or an atom, or mitochondrial Eve looking
for a purpose in life that wasn't too deep to conceive of
given that she couldn't know what she had to work with at the time.

When you listen to yourself clearly to hear the universe
talking through you, if it doesn't sound unapologetically absurd
you're either lying or mindless of the madness in the mirror.
This is what comes of updating your questions
but listening in the same old language. The universe is polyglot.
It speaks in tongues of undifferentiated chaos, and the ear
you give to it is the grammar, the magic of what it has to say
so the message is always collaboratively creative
like the quantum entanglements of binary star systems
dancing around each other like lovers whose bonds
are not proportional to the elastic distances between them.
Just like the impersonal intimacies between crystals
on the same frequency. Go out and look at the stars
on a winter night and say anything you want in their presence
and it's heard in reverse on the other side of the galaxy.

You can tell who's been looking at Orion
by the labyrinthine eyeprints of earth bound fireflies all over it
whose light you didn't think could reach out as far as a star
to leave an indelible impression on the third eye of a sunspot.
Pure motivation doesn't set the agenda of what you're fated to live.
Ambition even less. Yet they're both open doorways to enlightenment
as expedient and delusory as those spiritual keyholes you peek through.
Life accommodates itself to the morphology of your knowledge forms.
Inconceivably, it exists because you imagine it, not because you know it.

Astronomy for poets. Picture-music for cosmologists with stone ears.
The shape-shifting pillars of the moon in a palace of water,
the way all poems move like serpents of light
dancing to their own flutes like the wind on the waves.
Many waterclocks and broken hearts that do,
but the lyric of the mindstream doesn't taste of time.
There are no ashes of the stars on its tongue,
no new moon like a pupil in the iris of a moondog.
It doesn't enter the future trying to improve upon its infancy.
It doesn't hire a tutor to help perfect its spontaneity.
It's not the idolatrous familiar of its companionable mystery.
It's not the nightwatchmen of everything it reflects.
It's not the eyewitness watching you being you in your dreams.
The circuitous blossoming is your own emergent life. Your seeing
flowers into music like stars on the tendrils of the wild grapevines
feeling their way through the darkness like the cursive script
of a serpent of light writing glyphs in the wake of its going
as if any wavelength of water were a sign of intelligence
in a desert of stars where sand may be the measure of time
but the hourglass of the sky never runs out of insights
like fireflies writing back in ungrammatical constellations
of pictographs in the luminous hand of their vagrant imaginations.

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Poem Submitted: Sunday, January 13, 2013

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