Patrick White

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

Seeds Of Fire In A Nightsky - Poem by Patrick White

Seeds of fire in a nightsky root like flowers
in the ashes of my eyes I scattered on the wind
like the dust of stars I followed even into oblivion
to remain faithful to the life of the light
whatever transformations within me grew
into the starless darkness of the unknown heart
I've carried in my chest for years like the empty shrine
of a dead lantern to the last firefly to go out.

And this is a seeing without the eyes of the stranger
I no longer recognize as who I thought I was
when I could read the constellations like the Linear B
of the lost civilization that was elaborated out of me
to perish in the mountainous silence of what was abandoned
when I burned my starmaps and entered chaos
like the blackhole of the singularity
that could rejuvenate me out of nothing like a grail
I was seeking at the bottom of the deepest grave
I ever descended into, a spider at the end of its silk,
or a caterpillar like the distant rumour of a butterfly
on a tranformational pilgrimage to an unknown shrine
that crawled with it all the way back to the beginning
of the radical innocence of an radiant world,
before time overran it with arrivals and departures
as if it never meant anything in the first place
to aspire to the light in the hope of a deeper intimacy with life.

And in this darkness, there is no letting go,
or hanging on to what cannot be grasped by understanding
until you realize that understanding only ever finds itself
and the vastness of what's expanding before it
into the unknown, is not a journey with a destination
or a threshold that can be crossed into illumination
like a voice meditating in the silence of its mother-tongue.
I was looking for the light by the light
I was given to go by when the wind blew it out
like a candle I no longer needed
to make my way deeper into this homeless darkness
that does not cast a shadow of time on enlightened extinction.

How can you divine what isn't missing within yourself?
The seeker dies by the side of the road
like a cry for help in the dangerous distance
pleading to be rescued by its own echo, and it comes
but not in a language of its own, not
as the event of anything that could have been anticipated,
not as something you can bring back with you
like the taste of water to the lips of a delirious mirage
to prove there's a reality beyond delusion
where everyone drinks from the same well
the muses of wisdom summon them to without a mouth.

As unsentimental as an overnight frost on the garden,
the larkspur rimed by billions of cold stars,
as if my seeing condensed out of the air
and every insight were a sign of farewell to the mystery
that urged me to risk everything like a tribute
to the divinity of nothing that had seized upon my heart
like a sacred clown faithful to the folly of experience.
Like the footprints of space and time that stretched behind him
for lightyears like the forced smile and phony tear
of the painted lifemask that convinced him he was not dead
to the ordeals of the journey he was leading nowhere
but to where he was every moment of the way
trusting in the crazy wisdom of the laughter
that regaled him every step of the way
like the cornerstone of the absurdity
that kept looking for new hills of prophetic skulls
to roll over like dice in a bone-box.
To wander like a rogue planet on an aberrant wavelength
of dark matter that doesn't express itself like moonlight
talking to itself like the open-mouthed seed syllables
of the waterlilies at night on the Fall river
writing love poems back to the stars that inspired them.

You want to overhear what the universe
is whispering to itself like a madman in his sleep
in the unbreachable silence of a fathomless dream
of random atoms engendering the forms of awareness
like a grammar of chaos out of its own unattainability
trying to make some sense of what it's saying,
an asylum of paradigms that undermines it own existence
in the arraying of a conditioned universe?
You have to learn to learn to hear it in a language
no one has ever spoken before you, as if
you'd never heard your own voice before
from somewhere deep within you saying
let it be as the stars broke into light
like the distant echo of an unknown wonder
that perceives the source of its own extinction
in the birth of everything, in the slightest conception
of the inconceivable rooting in its own ashes on the wind.

We all listen to the eloquence of things we don't understand
like a secret we're forbidden to tell anyone,
that keeps giving us away death after death,
birth after birth to our imperceptible selves.
Imagination seeds the mind of our uninhibited potential
to flower into worlds where the fruit comes before the blossom
as the harvest precedes the seed, or the darkness
wakes the nightbird up to its longing for love and light
and all our deaths are already achieved behind us
long before anyone was born to suffer them.
And yet we suffer them like a truce with the absurdity of the act
that establishes peace like a third-eye
in the middle of a hurricane that gives meaning
to the dark abundance of our extinction gathering into light
by sacrificing our emptiness like gods to our own creations
over and over and over again, as we surrender to ourselves
like candles returning themselves like fire
to the the light that inspired them
like water to the river it was taken from.

The distance of the journey of life is a wingspan
that cannot be estimated in shadows.
And though you master all the meanings in the world
and learn to love their subtleties like the taste
of mystic wine, or enlightened tea,
you're still the guest that's never met its host face to face
because everything you say is always behind you
like the light of a star whose immediate life
is always ahead of it hidden in the darkness like a jewel
that has yet to know the light of a direct encounter.
If you want to see deeply into the shining
you have to grow your own eyes to accommodate
the perennial insight into the restive vision at hand.
And you must learn to live without knowing
what it is you've come to understand
about the ashes of the dragons in the afterlives of the stars.

Don't let the scars intimidate the innocence of your wounds
as if you could never be hurt again by what
you cherished the most in your search to find yourself
in the absence of anything you could be attached to.
Look at the fireflies emerging from the valley fog
of a passing storm like a shapeshifting constellation
dancing at its own wake like a blissed-out drunk at a funeral.
You can taste the whole history of life
like a wandering myth of origin in every sip of water
flavoured with the reflection of things that changed along the way.
Don't mourn the transformations that enabled you to stay awhile
like snow on the mountaintops, dew on the tongues
of the new leaves of the apple-tree that emerge
like the sacred syllables of lovepoems
to the unknown windfalls of the mystery they facilitate
out of the urgency of their own becoming.

Here, where we speak for awhile, in the diction of things
arranged in the mystic grammars and paradigms
of our own likeness reflected like starmaps
to the shining that ripened our eyes from within
as if the whole world were turned inside out
and you had to descend into yourself to see the stars
like an arrangement of chaos expressed in metaphors,
the liars speak clearly in the language of other men's mouths
that can be easily understood, as the tongue-tied sages
blunder like an ineffable silence into the deepening mystery
of the creative eloquence of the unsayable things
that life speaks through them like the facts of a dream
that trues their wisdom to the disparate harmonies
of the illuminated chaos deep within the heart of life
that keeps contradicting itself like a pulse among the dead.

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Poem Submitted: Tuesday, May 22, 2012

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