Patrick White

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

Since I Was A Child - Poem by Patrick White

Since I was a child, this longing in my heart
for something I can't even name, but keeps
drawing me into it like a unfulfilled abyss,
unattainably alluring, but the space
saturated with pain as if time itself were grieving
like the white noise of the cosmic background,
or the love of a created thing for this that has come
would always be left unanswered and unrequited.
Times I've thought the emptiness, because
nature abhors a vacuum, was life's way
of enticing me into the available dimensions of the future,
a furtherance of me as a means of achieving its own ends.
I could blunder my way toward it as the labour of my life
in pursuit of an earthly excellence radiant with stars,
sublime as a root, with the dynamic equilibrium of a tree
that had weathered many storms in the name
of a beautiful absurdity that adorned the heart
with the tenderness of fireflies without losing
any of the impact of a life-changing meteor shower.

Maybe I'm just chasing ghosts of the unborn
who should have been and my longing's
a kind of mourning that confuses the past
with what's missing when it's really the future
that's suffered a miscarriage, and the way
a woman's body grieves like a planet
for a shepherd moon that's lost, I sense
the devastation of the coming years and my heart
aches with compassion for what is yet to be lived through
and all I can do is retain a future memory
of the bloody rose I can see in the bedsheets
of a spiritual hemorrhage we'll wake up beside
one morning like a shattered window
into the souls and hearts and minds we denied
any possibility of life to because
we hoarded our potential for love so lethally.

Life keeps its balance by constantly adapting
to its growing awareness of what it's made of itself
as do we making it up as we go along approximating
the probable concourse of affairs spontaneously.
You might say consciousness, the light that each
has been given to go by, is what evolution
looks like on the inside, urgent with creation.
The gathering. The mingling. The dissipation.
All the eddies and currents of thought and emotion
writing on the mindstream sometimes in Kufic script,
sometimes Irish kells, or maybe just heavy-hearted bells
that like to write their own songs and sing them
to no one but themselves, as if the mystery
of their sadness were sweeter kept than told.

I came like a stranger to the burnt gate
of my unsurvivable longing, and it was open
as if it had been waiting for me, and I walked barefoot
in the ashes of the flowers that were being emptied
like the urns of many past lives on the wind,
until I came to one that bloomed like a waterlily of fire,
a blossom of enlightenment, a sun that shone at midnight,
and for awhile, as still happens from time to time,
I walked in my own profusion like a garden again
so alone with a blue moon in Pisces only
the most courageous of lovers could enter my solitude
like the fruits of the earth, like a windfall of stars,
like a gust of fireflies out to make constellations of us all
that evolve, as circumstances change, into intimate zodiacs
that keep us all fire walking on our mindstream
like maple leaves in an autumn that just won't go out
like inspiration and life and longing, the mystery
in the beautiful eyes of the muses of crazy wisdom.

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Poem Submitted: Saturday, September 1, 2012

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