Patrick White

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

These Words Are Not Meant To Burn Your Smile - Poem by Patrick White

These words are not meant to burn your smile.
I lay them gently like cool herbs on your cracked lips.
This light takes its shoes off before it enters your eyes
like shrines to the apostate darkness that lives within you
and waits for the moonrise to gentle your Vesuvian wounds.
Pompous to call myself a healer when all I am
is a confabulation of lyrical cures for what ails you
but I call the wind to the winter willows
and the taste of rain in the air washes the blood
out of your hair like a painter caressing a watercolour
with sable brushes that bleed like dusk on the river.

Let that man pray discretely no evil comes of his words
when he speaks of love as if his heart knew
what he was talking about so I will not tell you
to exit by the fire-escape the next time he fire-bombs
your palace of water gardens with emotional phosphorus.
You take that up with the silence of the abyss
you're already pleading for consolation answers from.
It's your light and the way you bend it like a gravitational eye
is how love can wander like a straight line for lightyears
without realizing it's always been a special form of a curve.

Even with a chubby lip and that orchid of a black eye
that will descend like a moonset into a bruised eclipse,
wounded so, whipped like a rose by a comet
disappointed by the lack of spectators who anticipated
being more amazed by the light show, your beauty
is still an unspoken assumption that pervades the air
like the vulnerable fragrance of a woman mourning
the death of a dream that made the lesser nightmares tolerable.

I can hear the understudies of the mermaids backstage
trying to overcome their stagefright, and, sweetness,
it would be so easy at this station of my life
to include you in my aniconic pantheon of mystic influences
that have been shapeshifting my heart like renegade muses
as wild as they were dangerous in their heretical solitude
for more inspired memories behind me of what was
with no rancour denouncing what could have been
than there are creative eternities ahead that will be validated
by the annihilations I've suffered through to aspire to them.

You'd be the right door but I'd be the wrong threshold
you need to cross right now into an abysmal absence
that makes even death wince like something paltry
by comparison, and immolate yourself in the intensity
of the clarity to sort through your ashes to see
what hissed and evaporated like an exorcised ghost
from the green wood that smothered your fire
with the need to possess a life to make up
for the neglect of its own squalid smouldering.

Spontaneously distinguish the star sapphires and emerald lakes
the white gold of your burnished bodymind could swim in
like the plumage of the moon unfeathered like a peony
on the supple waters of life whispering a secret
that has slept like an ocean in a seashell waiting
for you to remember it when you first picked it up on the beach
like a little girl wondering why something so beautiful and strange
came such a long way for you to find it like a kiss
you could hold in your hands like an eyelid
or the petal of a nacreous rose in your palm.

When your prince proves something less than mortal,
appeal directly to the fire of the dragon
to refresh your innocence in the rain
that will fall shortly after as if it just discovered
the sacred syllables of lunar flower seeds
in a desolate garden trying to bloom like the palings
of a closed gate and you will be received like a messenger
from another state of seeing with crucial news
about how love can root in the shadows of desert seabeds
like a mirage of waterlilies that actually float
like stars on the wavelengths of unmapped rivers.

Risk the fear of being who you are even
when the voices of the dead have your best interests
at heart, and gibber about not making the same mistakes
their authority rests upon like resolute quicksand,
and don't scorn the pettiness of what people
are willing to die in the name of, but turn your face
like a sunflower toward the sublime perils
of what you're truly inspired to live as
with no gap between your imagination
and the shadows of reality it casts on the clouds
like the penumbral wisdom of compassionate dragons
passing over your intertidal moonscapes
like the eclipse of a dark blessing that buries
its shining like a loveletter in a black envelope,
serpentine jewels in the ore of the night
that will flood your eyes indelibly with the mystery
of being illuminated by the light of your own heart,
galaxies of fireflies reflected in the sea stars at your feet.

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Poem Submitted: Wednesday, February 6, 2013

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