What An Impasse, Quiet Moment, Come To This - Poem by Patrick White
What an impasse, quiet moment, come to this
deeper than a bell in the dead of winter. Grime
on the grey windows as if I were living inside
a sooty lantern, consuming the flesh of my body
in fire that will make me indelibly invisible
for generations to come, to each, the prelude of a ghost
that produced abundantly out of nothing
windfalls of the imagination that shook me like a tree.
I lived like a slag heap of ore for the sake of the jewels within.
Amino acids in a meteor with a genome
falling out of the abyss like a star you could wish upon
and risk getting what you really wanted
though you weren't honest or courageous enough
to believe it at the time. Starwheat for the soul,
bread massaged by human hands, black pearls
with the lustre of a thousand new moons
you'd forgotten about your life, the dark beginnings
of something splendid that died inside of you
like creosote on the chimney pipes that creaked
like the arthritic boughs of tin trees in a firestorm.
The snow outside draped over the phantoms of buildings
like ragged cotton dust covers over the furniture
of the abandoned town as if the owners
always intended to come back one day. Time
squatting on the property like juniper and thornapple
in an overgrown field returning the way it came
like a prodigal that made it home lightyears too late.
Leafless municipal trees stripped of their legends.
I know more about being alone at night
than the moon does when everyone's asleep
grinding their teeth like millstones geared
to the endless waterwheels of their mindstreams
going round and round without a stop, a top
or a bottom as if it were crucial to be homogenous.
Everyone trying to stand out in the crowd
like a retinal response to the black hole
in the middle of their moondog iris like a pupil
they've never put up to their eye to look through.
Witching the abyss for water with branch lightning
is a much more dangerous calling for wizards
that have more in common with solitary dragons
than they do with the scintillant eyebeams
of magic wands chirping in fountains of stardust
that spring out of the optic fibres of whatever
they look upon, like a rosary of dew lying
about the death trap of the spider web it's ensnared by
in the false dawn of a mandala that makes
everyone feel better by lulling them with the opioids
of the lotus-eaters who never got off the island
to see how vast and exhilarating the sea of life truly is.
When the starmaps stop at the edge of your eyes
and you're not disobedient enough to cross the threshold
you eventually die in a cul de sac of sticky constellations.
Shore-huggers in the tidal pools of your stagnant tears.
No need to go to a war of lenses over it. The karma's
as instantaneous as the charismatic depravity
of the electromagnetism of your name. One day
when you've donated it like a black walnut
to scientific research lab for tax deductible lobotomies
someone's going to cut deep into the sweetmeat
of your brain, to see what you thought about life,
and what it was like to live for the stain
of a little bit of fame so wholly indoctrinated
like a polyp into a tradition of dead coral,
you gave up thinking lyrically about life and light
in words, and began, at the behest of a patented gene,
expressing it wholly in a grammar of corporate logos.
Fashionably unreal as the Cambrian outbreak of icons
for Exxon and Monsanto, Shell and Microsoft in
in the auto-hagiography of your Burgess Shale.
If the spirit of making a gift of a gift within you is dead,
I suppose the only recourse you have left
for the corpse you're passing off as the real you,
is a deal and a sale and the hysterical jealousy
you can arouse like a muse in an escort service for that.
A cosmetic surgeon playing Pygmalion with his Botox wife,
not a healer that ever brought anyone back to life
by transfiguring the shape of the universe they dwell in
by reminding them it only takes a little bit of starmud
aged in their tears to mould a face of their own
to the reflection of the infinite spaces contained
by their hearts and minds, eyes, smiles, and grimaces
perfectly fitted to human flesh and blood and skin
like a mirror that looks at them from the inside
to determine the colour of their eyes,
by what they've seen, what they've dreamed
what they've lived for, what they've loved,
and what they haven't dared to look upon before
with a passion so intensely perennial and clear
it will be their eyes that will go out of fashion
long before the stars ever realize that what
breaks out of the darkness into light above
finds the source of its shining looking up at them
from down below and gauges the lifespan
of the radiance of their seeing and depth of being
by how many new moons and lightyears ago since that last was.
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