Patrick White

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

The Angel In The Way I'M Wrestling With - Poem by Patrick White

The angel in the way I'm wrestling with
won't box. I don't get a choice of weapons.
My hip dislocated by a greater intensity than I am,
I'll walk away the stronger man,
a sacred king with a limp, Richard the Second,
or Vulcan, or Byron swimming the Hellespont.
Down on a sunny day, snarly in the sunshine,
too disheartened to get with the picture and bloom.
Nothing against the vases of sappy daffodils
in green vases on open windowsills,
but I feel like tracking starmud into the living room.
Heavy green diamond steel-toed work boots
with their laces undone, their tongues hanging out,
clotted with earth, so the nuns of the narcissi
don't forget they've got dark, dirty roots
and bulbs like prophetic skulls
that have been buried in the garden a long time
who predicted all this would happen in due course.
Everyone clear-eyed as a haiku in a mirror.
Wholly out of season, my heart feels
like the heavy bell of a requiem for all those
who worked themselves to death for so long
like sweating horses hauling this death cart
of a planet around to change its point of view
like the bent axle of a prayer wheel
inclined toward the sun. On this blue-eyed day
and in the morning before dawn, euphoric commotion
of birdsong in celebration of the return of the light,
but I think of how much darkness, the cast off ore,
extinct forests, Jurassic coalbins,
had to clarify themselves
for the sake of a single diamond of equinoctial insight.
The apple trees are wearing their appearances
on their sleeves, and the willows
are adding blonde streaks to their hair
after their long widowhood of veils.
God I wish I didn't have to be a poet sometimes
warped into revealing things from the inside out
like a canary in a coalmine on a sunny day.
I try to imagine how sweet it would feel
just to be in the world like a lackadaisical dandelion
blooming like an average G type sun
in the fresh painterly green of the grass
with a couple of ants for planets.
What a miner I'd make. Always
looking for a motherlode of ore in a gold mine.
Reading between the lines of the spring constellations
to admire the brilliance of the darker messenger,
the deeper clarity of a more pellucid view of the world
as it appears on the nightshift
in the black mirrors of the blind chandeliers
I've been romancing at a dance of celestial spheres
by tracking my footprints all over the ballroom floor
for those who dance iambically with a limp like me to follow.
And my only alibi for looking at things on the dark side.
You can't plumb the depths, or judge the age
of a black hole in light years. And it's totally lost upon me
how you can truly claim to see anything, even spring
if you're not a two-eyed telescope, one eye on day,
one eye on the darkness, and both open simultaneously
like the sun and the moon at opposite ends of the sky,
and the earth in between like the third eye
of a spiritual refugee with an extra lens for backup
in case I should feel as I do today
like a star-nosed mole with tunnel vision
trying to shine above ground with the tulips.
Even as observatories all over the northern hemisphere
are opening their eyes to the light
just to let a little fresh air in
like house plants on open tenement windowsills
sinking their roots deeper into the darkness,
like back lightning into a mystic watershed
to keep from going blind
in the blazing of the blossom overhead.


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Poem Submitted: Monday, April 2, 2012



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