Water Has Its Followers - Poem by Patrick White
Water has its followers
but the wind is free of an audience.
It doesn't encourage cults of wild irises and daylilies
along the flowing of its banks.
It sows the orchards with the pollen of stars
it kicks up like dust at its heels.
But my voice isn't the larnyx
of windmills and waterwheels
and when I speak
I'm always one among the crowd
that's listening at the same time
to a conversation with themselves
that took the words right out of my mouth.
My voice is a seance.
The dead use it like a bus stop.
The swallows and the pigeons
drink from it as if it were a public fountain
efflorescing like an Easter lily in Florence.
It's a guitar. But I am not
the medium, the message, or the master.
Sometimes my voice comes in the mail
like a self-addressed suicide note
I wanted to take a cheap form
of copyright out on. Be dead
by the time it got here
like the light of a star that's gone on ahead
so I won't need to open it to the public.
No echo. I know it's a black hole
with nothing to say to anyone
who isn't as singularly empty as it is
cowboying aeons of dark matter into galaxies
that won't stray from the herd like starfish.
Still life with clown, sometimes
it finds me meditating among the pears
or half-lotus in the nunneries of the waterlilies
praying for something important to come down
like Jesus or a ufo and take me away
just take me away for good from this alien place.
When it talks as if it's been insulted
I'm the one who loses face when it decides
it would be more honourable for me to die
facing in the direction of my chi,
gutting myself on a compass needle
that's been in the family ancestrally,
than waste my death as I have my life on poetry.
And when it's in a less ceremonious mood
it holds a broken beer bottle up to my throat
and threatens to cut my heart out
like a bird stuck in a chimney
putting wings on its jugular like a one-stringed harp.
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