The Sun Puts My Eyes Out Like A Star In Too Much Light - Poem by Patrick White
The sun puts my eyes out like a star in too much light.
I wait for the night to return my seeing to a vision
of things unseen, the unnarrated themes of life and love
that move like migrant birds and sounding whales
behind the symbolic lifemasks of the moon, none of them mine.
Mystery within a mystery, my voice is not a camera
at a seance. I listen to what hasn't been revealed.
I turn even the homeliest asteroid over like a jeweller
with a pygmy telescope for a third eye
holding a diamond in the rough up to the light
to see what's been concealed like a secret of life
hidden within the ore of its savage shining.
I invariably rebuff the heavy bombardment eras
of the brutalities of love, though I had to suffer them
like noxious atmospheres in the wake of a cosmic pummelling
to arise so wisely here, the broken pine of my arboreal insight
into the nature of rootless trees. What doesn't kill you
can wound you so badly that even death
looks like a redundancy in the maimed mirror
of your reflection. Be clear about this. After
every extinction passes like the cloned silhouette
of the full moon, it's the labour of a lifetime
to publish your poems like apple bloom on the branch
of the lightning bolt that cleaved you to the root
like a French executioner with an imported sword.
It's not strength to retool the innocence of an open heart
into a lethal weapon, even if it's a righteous kill.
It's one thing to heal. It's another not to be destroyed
by your scars like a shy painting in an arrogant frame.
Green bough. Dead branch. Same song. As I've said
before. The nightbird sings on the tongue of a serpent
as readily as water and wavelengths on witching wands
and tuning forks, the sound of sorrow in a human voice
where the rivers divide inseparably for life
like the strong rope of a spinal cord into the weaker threads
of a string theory of profoundly significant departures.
So be it. I trembled. I cried like an abandoned housewell
whose lightbulb just went out like the filament
of a genome that tried to keep its afterlife from freezing
when the world was destroyed by ice
in the terrible clarity of the eyes that blew it out
like a mutant candle that tried to add its odd gene
to the constellations of razor wire that imprisoned it
like the dangerous exile of its own dna. In this game
of musical chairs, I always try to take the low place
like a sea on the moon so all my lost atmospheres
and high tides returned to me, kinder, deeper,
more experientially seasoned loveletters than those that left.
Hatred isn't creative. Judgement accuses itself.
History is written by the victors in dust on a shelf.
When we all lie down on the pyres of our deathbeds
may each of my lovers have enjoyed a better
dream of life than I did, more stars, more flowers,
fewer chains, less red shift in reality than in
their memories of the way things could have been
with the strangers we became over the long lightyears
looking back in arcane wonder at how love changes
to keeps its balance against a backdrop of creative chaos.
I observe the protocols of a poet approaching
the allure of an unknown bird at the gates of my voice
like a lyric I've only ever heard before at a lonely distance
from its source within me. The wind blown seeds
are more prodigal with insights into the mystery of life
than the genetically modified, and every exile
tends a secret garden that travels with them
like a vagrant motherland planting a starmap
of hyperbolic comets in the open fields beyond
the prize-winning asters of lesser zodiacs.
Petty monuments to transcend our mortality
won't arouse the quiescent jealousy of time.
Truth doesn't renew its virginity in an acid-bath.
Beauty isn't marked by the singularity
of a star-nosed mole piercing a black hole.
The clock shows up with a second at a duelling sword dance.
Evolution advances surrealistically like a fast lane
for atavistic snails and the celebrity messengers
try to steal the spotlight from the message
they were created like flying fish with fins
on their heels to convey as a warning of pre-eminent change.
Circus animals in an abattoir of balancing acts.
Emotional jugglers and fire-eaters, sword-swallowers
easing the silver scimitar of the moon down the throats
of shallow lakes drowning in their own spit.
Freaky sages and anointed snake-oil salesmen
gulling the vanity of those seeking to be enlightened
like exceptions to a species going extinct
since some disappointed scribe divined
by the sunspots on his shining, every bloodline,
but the holy book of his own phylum, was a bad idea.
Not to be mean, vicious, feeble, ungenerous
to even those who tried but failed to love you in life
like crutches that didn't break into blossom under your armpits
or the right idea with the wrong blueprints
for ladders and wings to get you out of the snakepit
that keeps swallowing your cosmic eggs
like albino whole notes, the stone cartouches of eyes
that never got to see how big the sky is because
you didn't break out of your shell in time to see the stars
or even hear a whisper of the oceanic awareness
within you like the white noise of your afterbirth
still traumatized by your universal intrusion into this life.
One night laid out on your deathbed in a tidal pool
of febrile sheets, staring into a homeless abyss
like the return address of an anonymous enquiry
reviewing what you said and felt, or didn't say,
because you calculated the effect in numbers,
not the words in your heart, like a silent movie
with more of a gift for pictures than conversation,
you're going to see yourself unadorned as porn
in a snuff flick of all your myriad love affairs with life,
and the bloom off the rose, whether you were
a petal or a thorn, it's going to be too late
to rewrite the black farce of the leading protagonist
as the rising star of the person you should have been
instead of the one you are in the sewer of fame.
The intensity of the clarity won't leave you
a patina of mind to hide behind or insulate the view.
Naked, alone, out in the relentless open, for
your eyes only with eternity your sole witness
and you about to notarize it with your flesh,
even if it be the noblest folly of a leftover child,
a dragon-slaying firefly, an iota subscript of self-respect,
the taste of crazy wisdom you can't rinse out of your heart
like the bloodstain of a rose, honour those
you have loved painfully like a morning frost
or in joy, though lost now, when you shared the dusk
with a moonrise as lovely as any muse
you've ever known, come down to the river
to drink from her reflection in your eyes, or just
for the hell of it because you prefer it that way,
let your heart remain as large and lavish
as any gesture of stars the universe ever squandered
on your impetuous love of life that embraced it all,
blessing and curse alike as the old moon opens its arms
both crescents wide to the dark abundance of the new.
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