Patrick White

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

Undevoted, Free, And Wild - Poem by Patrick White

Undevoted, free, and wild,
no one to answer to, no one to answer for,
the urns shattered, and the ashes scattered,
and the fire liberated to perfect its own combustion
and the stars without anyone to walk home,
and the solitude silent, dark, and deep, cool
as the bliss of a wine-cellar talking in its sleep,
I have grown mad in the heat of the purple sun.
I have spoken from the mouths of the caves in the desert
and not expected the echo of my own voice
to return to me like a pilgrim stashing a gnostic gospel
deep in the sand, without realizing
how much closer to the stars dirt is than I am.

When you're no one but the wind in disguise
you don' need to be humble, you don't need to wise,
nothing to trust, and no one to rely on,
you can watch the dead at night
streaming toward Orion
like a blue-white ribbon of light
undoing the gift wrappings off the bodies and eyes
of people who can see and be again.

And you know it comes to everyone
like a nebular orchid with a fragrance of stars,
that the Sahara will green and bloom again
and the wind sing hymns to the grass
and the gazelles sport their elegant legs,
adolescents in the spring brush,
running like violins succulent with beginnings,
and it doesn't matter you're alone out here
listening to the ashes of a mirage
make up legends to tell the fire
about its ancestors buried on the moon anonymously
and how their blood once stained the earth
like a scarlet letter even the stars couldn't wash off.

The mystic anti-hero of my own dragon myth
I exalt in my isolation like a shriek of revolution
and overthrow myself like a book in the flames
to keep something I don't understand alive in me
as if I had to keep on dying to sustain myself
and the distinction between one and the other were lost upon life.
It's a touch, it's a feel, it's a hole in veil
with one eye looking out at me to see
if I've intensified the dark enough to break into stars,
if I can unravel my heart like smoke like water like fire
and perfectly disappear into the atmosphere of my dispersal
without a shudder of farewell to the masks I wore like scales.
Not to be constrained by even so much as
the single thread of a straitjacket, the husk
of an abandoned sanctuary left to the imagination
of the hermetic flowers to do with as they wish.

I shriek freedom across the heavens like the death cry
of a hawk waking the valley up in the morning.
I whisper to the water things the wind was never meant to hear.
So faithful to my calling, I lead those who come, away from me,
as if it were the perennial custom of the universe
to meet like this for a moment in time and space
and then disperse into the darkness alone like a unlit candle.
I'm a riot of fools in the sublimity of the presence within me
that elates the crazy wisdom of my spontaneous ignitions
and schools the black lightning of its absence
in the folly of trying to enclose my spirit in gates
like a candle in the niche of a tempestuous vision.

Yeeeeeeessssss, I scream into the face of nothing
like the efoliant scripture of my confession and protest
that life doesn't need an alibi to live and die by,
no extraneous, no outer, no other, no object, no subject
no flying buttress to act as a bridge
over a flowing river of Gothic stone,
no strong tree standing on its own to cut down
and carve into a crutch, no cork to keep the ocean out,
no bucket to bail the moonlight out of the lifeboat,
no jade Buddha to make your supplications to,
no footprints on the water Jesus walked,
no cave in Ramadan to receive the angel of light,
no Kabbalah to baffle your way through the night,
no Schmidt-Cassegrain reflecting telescopes
on clock driven equatorial mounts geared to the heavens
to thread the golden needle of the mystery
without any knots in your spinal cord,
to penetrate the vulva of the sea like a sacred shell
that once gathered armies on a burning hillside
to contest their revelations with the tongues of swords.

I shall tell you, my brother, I shall hasten to you my sister
like moonlight through your window, I shall not
hold back from you the least shadow of the furthest star
releasing its dark wisdom like the black doves
of its own excruciating ashes glowing like the pain
of horrendous transformations into light.
I shall not bring you the skins of the dragons I've shed
but inspire you with a fire you've never been burned by before,
a spiritual immolation into a godhead without a metaphor
to guide you by, a torch you can't drown in your tears,
a long firewalk down to a river of stars,
and there you shall cross on a burning life raft
of the bones you've been carrying around for lightyears like a body.

And it's a heresy of silence to say, but there
you shall you shall lie down in the nocturnal emptiness
in the long blue seagrass of the moon
and empower out of your own creative abundance
whatever worlds your longing inspires you to embrace
to amuse the bright vacancy of eternity with time, like love,
and the dark abundance of unperishing potential
with space, like wisdom, and the clear light of the void
and the unspeakable absence of any other voice
to ruin the silence with the bliss and sorrow of seeking
the mystic night you found within you longing like a bird
for the stillness to write it like a lyric of the wind,
a passage of blood through the labyrinth of the heart,
a shadow against the moonrise of a compassionate awareness
there's a divinity that sings like a human
in the heart of everything that breaks its long fast of nothing
with praise and celebration, with fire and light and rain
with the firstt sacred syllables to touch the lips
of the black rose charred in the heart of the dragon, like poetry.

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Poem Submitted: Friday, May 25, 2012

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