Patrick White

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

No Lightning From My Clouds Of Unknowing - Poem by Patrick White

No lightning from my cloud of unknowing,
now that this season of storms has passed.
Occasionally tears, but a harvest of stars
shining like Spica in the hand of Virgo
and all these dazzling insights into nothing
I hang like wild grapes and chandeliers
above the dance floor where I press the wine.

Not meditative, but darkly absorbed, who knows,
maybe even void bound, drowned or lost,
I'm not trying to seek a way out of the abyss.
Whatever it is, I accept it as it is. Most of the time.
And when I don't and I'm stuck like a wishbone
in the throat of a nightbird, even my dissonance
is included in the background cosmic hiss.
So I say you don't have to be attuned to it
to be in harmony with it, and if you've gone astray
or been misdirected, maybe that's a course correction
you didn't have to make, because all rivers
are flowing the right way to the sea, and as
for the picture-music you hear like a hidden mindstream
talking in a dream in a dark wood, you don't
always have to hit the right note to be a great singer.
Or name me a bird that sings its heart out off key.

I can feel the stillness moving under my feet
like a road, a mountain path, a rogue orbit,
or Curiosity like a wandering scholar on Mars,
a vagantes, a Druidic refugee intervening in the War of the Worlds
and a machine this time looking for the Garden of Eden
like an alien mirage in the desert, fossils of Dilmun,
the middens of Shangra La, microbes in the begging bowls
of a new myth of origin, where Nasa is God,
and a robot is the first of a whole new race of Martian nomads.

The silence speaks to me in thousands of estranged voices
like leaves on the silver Russian olives moved
by the spirit of the wind tampering with their sterling currency
to lament their passage at the approach of autumn,
though there are only a few flames beginning
to immolate the trees like heretics that had to
bring their own stakes to their auto da fe.
O how easy it would be when I'm down here alone
to slip into this river like an unobtrusive sacred syllable
into a long-running conversation, even if
it's nothing but spiritual slang, and yet be satisfied
I've had my say, I've added my voice
like a bird in a birch grove, whether
anything alive tonight answers it or not.

As a holy book said once on a bus, sitting beside me,
when one jewel is marked they're all marked
indelibly as stars and eyes and planets,
and there's a Conservation of Data Principle
in this universe, even in the heart of a black hole,
that says once here, here forever
in this great spiritual lost and found
that can read the whole history of life
in the mustard seeds that yellow the fields around here,
or the stars that do much the same
in a commotion of atmospherically aberrated colours,
burning with the urgency of mystic details
being whispered into everyone's ear
as if each were a hidden secret of God
that wished to be known and expressed itself flawlessly
like a master of mantric wavelengths
or a mute with an overbite pointing out constellations
and the last of the wildflowers, a signage of light
reciting the fathomless poetry that lives in a name,
ignoring all the fancy lanterns in the windows
of the houses of the zodiac, to follow the flame
of whatever light you've been given to go by,
wherever it leads, through the star fields or the cul de sac
of a satoric eclipse with no light at the end of the tunnel
as the only way of ever prodigally coming back.


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Poem Submitted: Tuesday, August 28, 2012



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