Patrick White

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

There, You See, I Let You Go - Poem by Patrick White

There, you see, I let you go, just like that, open my hand
like milkweed, like dandelion, a grave full of ghosts
and let space take the parachutes and parasols,
chimney-sparks and fireflies in a gust of wind by a dark lake,
and I wonder if the stars, too, are a way of saying good-bye,
if the blood drapes its lanterns in black
after the light has fled
and latches the gate with a question, if
the sun dies in the apricot after it falls,
if the branch is sadder by the weight of one bird
or if the fruit it bears like tears is enough
to go on conducting the requiem of your absence,
because we are just an eye of water at the end of a leaf,
a match plummeting down a well,
a tiny fury of seeing that scalds the watershed
with the hiss of a cat, a feather of flame, and dies,
the dreary slag of a dwarf moon, a black, pitted skull.
And who would believe such a desolate thing,
was once a red bud on a paper stem, dreaming of flowers,
imagining the dawns that would come of its flaring,
or the constellations that might recruit its shining;
now the head and thorax of a dismembered insect,
a pygmy matador robbed of its scarlet cape,
its anonymous corpse, the only gravestone
to say it once existed among the radiant, a meteor, a comet,
a star doused in the morning light, an orchid of fire
at the end of an exclamation mark that shocked nothing
by its Luciferian fall from grace, no more than a wounded kite
that mistook itself at the end of its tether
for a phoenix with other lives. And the spring is green
and the rain trips delicately off the plectra of the leaves and petals,
and everywhere there is the frenzy of growing things,
blue carillons of liberated bells, but I am alone
with the battered asteroid of my own insignificance
far from light and water, in a straitjacket of space,
a minor bead on a rosary of greater planets,
a nugget of injured iron in the gold-pan gleanings of the sun,
the seed cast away, the extinguished stone
of a directionless house of worship
with nothing in my loins but the ghosts of the evicted poems
that once lived there, the pride of the desert tribes
before the nations of faith revised the unsayable silence
your eyes have left me like dry wells in the starless dark.

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Poem Submitted: Wednesday, January 25, 2012

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