Over Here, You See - Poem by Patrick White
Over here, you see, this is where I keep
a hospice for the strawdogs and voodoo dolls
that wander in off the road like spiritual emergencies
that have had enough of being used at sacred rituals.
I made peace between my blessings and my curses,
blew the angels off the heads of the pins
they were dancing on like the axes of uninhabitable planets
stuck through my eyes, the splintered glass
of wreckless stars it took more than light years of tears
to wash from my seeing when everything looked so painful
and the angels were grinding reflecting mirrors
to give corneal transplants to the way I looked at things.
Away with the blessings. Away with the curses.
The doves and the crows, the veils and the bars,
and the way some stars burnt like meteor showers,
chimney sparks, with the radiant of a welder's arc
trying to repair the rip in the hull of my heart in drydock
whenever I scuttled it like the moon on a coral reef.
And this is the matrix of the lost and found
of all I've known and seen and couldn't find
any other context for other than the artificial paradise
of this womb in waiting everything that hasn't happened yet.
There are generations of orphans here
with toyboxes full of the enduring relics
their mothers left like endearing fossils
of a love that never came back to claim them.
Petrified butterflies among the sea life of the Burgess Shale.
I keep a place for them in my heart like a pressed flower
until they can root on their own, and bloom
like a star they can follow anywhere, and it's home.
This is the dark closet where I hang my skeletons
like a wardrobe of mannequins that have worn
my skin from time to time like the flying carpets
of world-creating cosmic membranes blowing
shapeshifting bubbles into hyperspace like alternative lives
that occasionally pop on the razorwire of their umbilical cords
like prophylactic thorns on the miscarriage of a rose
as never to have existed, as Sophocles said,
is the best part of life, bar none. Whether you're dressed
like a zodiacal king in the cochineal robes of the universe,
or wear the richer rags of a man who walks naked.
And you don't want to know what's in there,
but over here in this chamber next to where
the picture-music has a sound proof room of its own
when its rehearsing the silence of the mystery that beguiles it
like a lyric of blood in deep irreconcilable exile,
if you look through this little mica window
you can see the dragons glassblowing their tears
as delicate and fragile as the rain that falls
like chandeliers from a lunar watershed just below
the manic desiccations on the sun-baked surface
of a reflected glory that doesn't come
with dedicated flowers devoted to hummingbirds
that showed them the sweetness of life in surreal replication.
And this water palace has a thousand rooms
with great bay windows and walls that can speak
of the great events of tragedy and bliss
they've witnessed discretely in a cosmic context,
hung with heavy velvet curtains of blood
and tapestries of loose ends the moon unweaves at night
into a million separate wavelengths of enlightenment
it will gather on a loom of blood into the narrative unity
of tomorrow when the tide draws back like an arrow on a bow.
But there's one floorless, wall-less windowless room
ageless as eternity and bigger than the abyss
that's lit by the dendritic candelabra of fireflies and stars
coming into blossom nocturnally like an apple tree
on a cold night in spring, I especially want you to see.
This is the doorless niche of my solitude I burn in like a candle.
This is the inexplicable emptiness in my heart
that's learned to cherish the abyss with open arms,
not just as space, though learning that is wisdom,
but as living people and inanimate things, stars,
leaves, ants, wolves and windows expressing forms
to console themselves in the pervasiveness of their isolation
by taking a hidden secret and making it known
as the black waters of earth long for the moon as a companion.
And this is where I have enshrined your dark radiance
like a telescope in an observatory buzzing with stars
at the prolixity of wild flowers opening themselves up
like loveletters they received anonymously in the night.
This is the sacred grove of the silver-tongued silence
where the birds of insight ripen the fruits of their longing
like windfalls of jewels in the ores of the darkness like eyes
that have sweetened and deepened their seeing enough
to orient the Parthenon to the rising of the Pleiades
liberated like a flock of doves flying off everywhere
in the ubiquitous directions of prayer voiced by the light
of the sailing ones nursing the catasterism of the heart
risking a more enlightened suicide
by falling in love from ever greater
mythologically inspired heights in the depths
of my astronomical awareness of the shining that is you
as if you were the only mirror in the room I can look into
and see way more than the eclipse of myself
than I ever expected to.
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