Patrick White

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

The Earth Hides Nothing From You - Poem by Patrick White

The earth hides nothing from you
when its time comes to be revealed.
Not the bones of the dead, not the green wind
blowing on the young leaves of the maple
to see if it still remembers how to break into flame
or the loaded horse-hair brushes of the flowers
trying to decide what colours to apply first
to the blue-toned underpainting of the sky on their easel.

And this is the essential freedom of information act.
Walking with a thoughtful, cooly blissful, festive spirit
on a windy night by a spring lake trying on stars
like earrings to go with the season like crocuses
realizing, as if you weren't there alone, though you are,
how inestimably unique and precious it seems
just to be aware of this lake in the moonlight
trying to grow waterlilies in her Mars black hair
and one wild iris, because she's obviously French.

And I can tell by the way the eddies and ripples
circle and tendril the sensuous undulance
of her dark depths, and the way she's eyeing me
as I toe my way along the path I'm making up on the go,
she's intrigued and modestly threatened
or she's got other things on her mind
if I'm meant to know, I'll know, in her good time, not mine
because there is no birth or death in the present moment,
it doesn't have a future, it doesn't have a past,
and it flashes by so fast, it hasn't even happened yet
so everything is still and silent and timeless
and yet nothing is hidden, nothing held back.
Everything's shining out like a star
that can't keep what it knows to itself.
And any lingering question
of who you might have been is everywhere
reflected in the universe like a face in a mirror
with no one standing in front of it.

Something deep within and without me seems
to humanize the lake in my mother-tongue
and how astoundingly wonderful just to listen
to the lake's accent when she answers back
in a language I can fully understand is universal,
rich with metaphors and similitudes that are the bloodlines
of everything in existence rooted in a grammar of dark matter
that can be as eloquent as the stars
when it waxes lyrical in spring, its uncontainable heart
overbrimming with joy at the return of the nightbirds.
The great, blue, lunar heron and the solar ray of the osprey
returning after long absence to their nests,
like lost jewels to a ring, eyes to the skull of a blind seer,
high in the Ys of the dead trees that look like harpoons
and dangerous tuning forks and witching wands
out whaling for water, stuck in the flukes of the lake.

Evanescent shape-shifters in the vagrant emptiness
learning to read each other like a star group,
say, the Pleiades, the daughters of Atlas,
the cornerstone of the world it upholds like a starmap
adjusting our eyes, our seeing, our unreasonable being here at all,
to the light and gravity of everything around us
in harmony with a life that's never
at peace with itself creatively
to keep the wild grapevines growing like grails
that everyone seeks like sweetness and light
at the root of the truth of themselves, as soon
they'll be sipping bliss from the towering stars
like ruby-throated hummingbirds from the larkspur.

Be empty as a cracked cup or an eyeless skull
and know what it is to be filled
by a lake that takes the low place so you
can flow into it like a bloodbank into the lifestream
of the spring run off of winter stars thawing in the dark hills
like patchy galaxies of snow that have found a way
to get off their islands by realizing
one wavelength of light
one wavelength of water
one wavelength of thought or insight
one wavelength of love and compassion
one wavelength of a seeker with a mindful heart
is all the flowing of the same night creek
growing into consciousness like a stranger
we come face to face with as it dawns upon us
emerging out of this dream of a self
like a dragonfly from its chrysalis,
like the wet sapphire of an eye
from the dark abundance of the seed
that prophesied that it would be so,
the best way to navigate your way
on this ocean of awareness even if you're shipwrecked
like these dead trees at the bottom of the lake
with herons in your crow's nest
is to take your hand off the wheel and let go.

Let go the way an archer releases a bird from a power line
or the first purple marten of the year
from the blossoming bow of an alder branch
hung with catkins in keeping with the fourth month
of Bran in the Celtic calendar and the letter, Fearn,
in the Druidic way of speaking to trees
to ask for directions through life and death and beyond
as if they'd made a library out of the whole forest
by listening to the wind in an alder copse
in a language the alders understood
they spoke in common with the water stars
of the blind and enlightened alike.

And if there's no one to fall in love with,
or out of, this time of the night starwalk
the circuitous blossoming of your way
deep into a nearby grove sometime,
along the shoreline of the improbable concourse
of the way of things like a wild grapevine
gave up being on the go, for growing,
once it got a taste of its own wine,
and watching the Pleiades like crown jewels
in the burgundy upper branchs of a birch
closer to heaven than you could ever
have imagined you could be,
fall in love with a lake with a French accent
and the soul of a Celtic sybil, and doing
what the moon does with her lunar sword unsheathed
lay your silver tribute down upon her waters.

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Poem Submitted: Wednesday, April 11, 2012

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