Patrick White

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

Not Imitating Anything Within Myself - Poem by Patrick White

Not imitating anything within myself. Not
cloning, replicating, or even confining
the same seeds to the same plants, endlessly
spiralling through space like a galaxy or a hawk,
drift, release, and disperse, condense and shine,
shudder with motherlodes of lightning in the ore,
let the light turn back on itself like a solar flare
or an ingrown hair, let the presence show me
the absolute purity of its absence if it must,
and that which is greatly unknown retain its sublimity.

I seek nothing. And find it everywhere. I make
no appeal to the silence to make something happen
for a change, as if it had a mind of its own
that didn't come with an explanation or an alibi.
Neither indictment nor confession, I'm not listening
to the stars through the black walnut leaves with my ears.
Three blocks away the teen agers sound like
white water in a small rapid, and the heavy night air
can barely keep its eyelids open, and though
I've lived here before they were born,
I am always the occasion of a stranger
who takes note and moves on down some deserted avenue
or path through the woods where the moon
and the stars appear more luminously invigorated
as they were before the town began to smoke them out like bees
and they dimmed to mere chalk dust on a blackboard.

I give a military salute to the lamp posts of the Imperial Guard
and go into exile like Napoleon. Je me souviens.
I will make no more wars upon my solitude.
I will walk with Sister Lunacy, my strange companion,
and we shall return our shadows to the darkness
like the feathers of two birds of prey renewing our wingspan
just to wheel on the wind like figure-skaters no one is watching.
Not to aspire. Not to long. Not to fulfil, acquire, or achieve.
Simply to act boundlessly as the smoke from a fire.
As the breath from our mouths on the afterlife of a star
that was a great arsonist in its time,
as the ashes of the bridges it crossed will tell you
in words of white phosphorus that will burn through your eyes.

Sweet absorption into the darkness on the other side
of seeing, I leave my images and metaphors behind me
like a man who's just wandered off the job
leaves his tools as they are, and follows some intuition
lingering like the fragrance of a night out of time in the air
that means nothing sustainable to anyone but him.

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Poem Submitted: Monday, May 28, 2012

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