Too Disaffected To Wear The Mask Of A Wizard - Poem by Patrick White
Too disaffected to wear the mask of a wizard
yet I don't need to dance with fire to burn.
Poetry, flowers, stars, paint and women
have accounted for most of my spells,
and when I weep in concert with the windows,
a rosary of crystal skulls streams from my eyes
at a seance of nightskies I shall not walk under again.
You can take the grain of the world, the filth, the grit
and blur it like the sun on a cloudy day
into a foggy pearl, creative self-defence,
when it all gets to be a bit too much.
Or, like me, you can bead your spinal cord
like an abacus of new moons and hope for the best
though your friends are going to think you're a little dark,
and even more demonic if you try to explain, but
don't underestimate how much light owes to the night
or the mythogenesis of joy to plain-speaking pain.
Getting ambivalently old now, though my emotions
don't seem to age, and there are no wrinkles
around the eyes of my thought like the deltas of rivers
reconciling themselves to the sea. Fissures maybe
of underground volcanic cauldrons under the oracle
still feeding sweetmeats to her pythons at Delphi.
Though the prophets I cherish the most
are still the trees in a nightwind that raves
like a crazy willow and shepherd moons
that keep the secrets of life to themselves
under an Arctic carapace of magma and snowblind turtles.
My light wanders like a drunk through an expired starmap
of gravitational eyes that drew me to them
like the women I have loved along the way
that flowered on the vine of my circuitous blossoming
and left me heavy and sweet with sorrow
like the fruits of the earth that bend the boughs
of dark abundance like the mystery of receiving
more than you ever knew you needed for awhile.
Grammar. Magic. Magician. I spent my youth
apprenticed to dragons learning how to turn
my scales into feathers. My intensities into
solitudinous islands fit for someone into sorcery
waiting for the first bird to drop the sacred syllable
that would elaborate the genomic lyrics of life
like an amino acid pulled like a sword
from the kissing stone of a lava meteor
I tried to send back to Mars by way of thanks.
To the spiritual clowns. Your perceptions are sound
but you haven't learned to play profoundly
with your visionary insights into mystic fireflies
that like to play scrabble with your vocabulary
of archaic constellations. Are you still arguing
whether the ho logos that started the world
was a legitimate word? Or merely the slang of birds?
The mountain didn't need a sherpa to be the first
to ascend its own slopes. If you're lost without a guide,
things you couldn't set out to find on your own
will come looking for you like eyes
that depend upon you to illuminate their seeing
like a star that's never been misplaced by space or time.
It started out as a book, but now my mind
has morphed into a library of gates
I've walked through most of my life alone
into a high field, wading through wildflowers
and a low summer moon like the phases
of a waterlily blooming as tenderly as a ghost
breathing on the rhythmic swaying
of the tall silver-green grass like the future-memory
of a muse who walked with me here once
like a delinquent prediction of what was to come
when I learned to make my own path
through the woods and she was gone
as if the night were not a reward
and her beauty were the price I had to pay
for the excruciating freedom of my solitude.
An air of gracious danger still lingers about me
now that I've mellowed like a diamond in the rough
into a more fluid translucency of adamantine aspects.
When you liberate a black rose don't forget
you enlighten the thorns as well like waxing crescents.
No heart cast out, your sorrows deepen
into the watersheds of cosmic wounds
even as your joys transcend forgiveness
like the insanity of bliss under the eyelids
and behind the earlobes of your most intimate eclipse.
Doesn't matter if you understand me now.
You will. Every flower gets to look at the sun
and the stars looking back at them from the inside
as slowly the light and the rain shed their life mask
like the white peony of the moon losing its petals
on the black mirror of the lake that will strew them
on the obvious path you were intended to take
not the one you do. The one that whispers to you
like the muse of a wayward encounter as if she knows
something you don't that keeps you awake at night
watching the gibbous moon approaching Jupiter
in the northwest quadrant of a window inspired
by the clarity of the fire that burns in your dreams
more lucidly than a madman who's made all the mistakes
of common sense before he abandoned the way it is
to the way it seems realizing there was no need
to efface himself in an infinite number of parallel universes.
In everyone's heart of hearts, a black rose, thorns and all,
wearing a mirage of water like a lifemask flowering
in a desert of stars drinking from the dark mystery
that flows from the wells of our own astonished eyes.
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