Patrick White

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

On The Wolf Path Around The Lake - Poem by Patrick White

On the wolfpath around the lake,
a narrow-eyed moon keeping an eye
on my intrusive solitude, my equivocating silence.
I can feel the air saturated with wet noses.
I try to imagine how the stink of a human
must impinge upon the wild things that live here.
Mustard gas in No Man's Land.
I listen to the recombinant rhymes of the nightbirds
to see if I can remember them by name.
I hear the water moving like a rat snake
through the stuffy cattails
standing like an honour guard of cannoneers
from Napoleon's Grande Arme beside me.
Encylopedic duff of decay. Wet black leaves
of last November's body found six months later
perfectly preserved under the snow,
cling like leeches to my leather jacket and boots,
trying to patch me with their colours
like skin grafts, as if there weren't already
enough constellations and starmaps on my back for that.
The sun in the Circlet of the Western Fish
committing murder-suicide, or were they hung
like ballet slippers with blue ribbons
beside a door way that gave up dancing for good?
Stubby birches that have been
through the pencil-sharpening beavers
once too often to make much of a point anymore.
Vlad the Impaler's idea of a white picket fence
around a pioneer stockade of pick up sticks.
On the wolfpath around the lake,
strewn with branches like handlebars
and the genderless frames of mountain bikes,
I hold on to whatever I can
to help me keep my balance.
I make my way to a stony clearing in the woods
nothing belongs to but a space
where everyone feels right at home
like the prime focus of a neighbourhood watch
with eyes like suspicious windows.

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Poem Submitted: Sunday, April 8, 2012

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