Patrick White

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

Mere Threads Of The Life We Once Lived - Poem by Patrick White

Mere threads of the life we once lived when our feelings
were flying carpets, and more unravelling all the time
where the frayed river meets the sea like the bloodline
of a mindstream that kicked the buckets from underneath
its waterclock after the house had burned down,
the fire was out. Now I ride grey horses with manes of smoke.

On nights like this. Quiet, after midnight, a gesture of snow
frosting the streets outside and my rage
at the atrocities of the pandemonious world,
weary of coming to exonerative conclusions about humans,
hoarse with shrieking murder at God and the stars
for this grotesquerie of death even the gaping silence
that shadows the wonder of being alive can't answer,
knowing how many times it's tried before, and failed.

On a night like this when my heart is exhausted
as an asteroid that doesn't care if it makes
an impact or not in a splash of instantaneous diamonds,
meteoric insights generated out of the catastrophic heat
like pure fire in the heart of its apocalyptic translucency,
I just want to sit by the river and watch it take its time
as I drown my mind in the flowing like a sword
I blunted on the rock of the world and now lay in pieces
like the moon shedding its petals and feathers of light
on the waves of the waters of life, in peace, in tribute
like the falling of the snow, and remember
when I used to reach out to touch your eyelids in your sleep
so gently I could feel what you were dreaming through my fingertips.

I want to put these heavy bells of sorrow down
like a windfall of the fruits of the earth that have
sweetened over time like the labour of a human
that tried like the light and the rain
to add an element of heart to the mix
before the work were taken out of his hands
and returned to the root as he must be soon
with a little more love, a little more beauty,
a little more compassion in the visionary tastes
of next year's apple bloom as you were to me once.

Awake or asleep, what a seance of stillborn dreams
this passion for life can seem sometimes,
and how strange the vows of the fireflies
we once exchanged, pledging ourselves
to each other's stars as if they'd forever
remain faithful to the wildflowers of the earth.
Dream-figures in passage who don't always
wake up with us when we do and so much
torn like a purple passage out of the book of life
like loosestrife from the wetlands, all you can do
is share your memories with your solitude
like the smell of snow in her hair, night on her lips,
autumn burning in her green eyes and the council
of five fires at the sacred meeting place between her hips
where the rivers of her legs met like green boughs
that made the nightbirds ache with longing.

Long gone, years ago, so far away by now
it's annalled in the archives of the fossils and stars,
all the mystic details conserved like data
in the bottom of a blackhole, the open gates
that once banged in the wind like applause,
unhinged like lapwings and grown over with vetch,
and the black pearls of the prophetic skulls
we consulted like new moons every spring,
thatched over with green moss like a funeral carpet.

Disembodied vapours of what we were, our breath
gone from the windows we used to draw in
trying to get the light right on our tears
when the sun came out after a lightning storm
and waterguilded the rain that dripped from the leaves
like sacred syllables at dusk in a skin of gold,
and gently restored the direction of prayer
to the deranged fields, standing the goblets
of the poppies upright on their altars again,
combing the hairknots out of the disheveled grass,
coaxing the turkey-vultures to spread their wings
to dry like totems at the tops of broken pines
as if they weren't the undertakers of road kill
for the moment, but war bonnets of eagles in disguise.


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Poem Submitted: Friday, February 15, 2013



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