Patrick White

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

When Someone Loves You And You'Re No One - Poem by Patrick White

for Kristine Marie

When someone loves you and you're no one,
what happens then? What do you have to give
that they aren't already in full possession of?
The many I have loved have become one woman.
And this is an orchid that blooms in fire at night.
And this is the dove that returns from earth
with a wing like a broken arrow and asks to be healed.

When someone loves you and you're no one,
what happens then? This picture-music flowing
like a carillon of bliss and despair through
my body, heart, mind as if they were all
poured like dragon iron into the casting of the same bell
that yesterday raised like a sword to kill it back into life?
And this is a doorway you can stand in forever
as if you were greeting someone who never comes.
And this is that butterfly among wildflowers
that flutters about like a symbol of the mind
as if it didn't know whose loveletter it is yet.

When someone loves you and you're no one,
what happens then? Do you give them your emptiness?
Do you wrap space around them when they're cold
like a star-studded shawl you asked the night to weave
for someone very special into astrology?
Or do you minutely examine the mystic specifics
of your life as you've known it up to now
and from somewhere in some dark room
way back of the heart, feel the urge to apologize
to the stars for how much their light's been through
for so little? The star labours, and candles are brought forth.
And this is the delirium of a window the moon drinks from.
And this is that jewel of a tear that didn't
make a big splash on the rock like other tears
and by that you know it's a diamond in disguise.

When someone loves you and you're no one,
what happens then? Does the air as now revel
like autumn in a gleeful chaos of images and insights
the wind unravels like leaves in a tantric realm of crazy wisdom?
Do you see a woman coming through a gate
as if she'd lived her whole life among roses and razor-blades?
And she's not asking for rapture, but you're beginning to feel
there's a peony of a supernova in the house of Cancer
waiting to express itself in the beauty of the way
it relinquishes itself like the moon to the waters of earth.
And this is that mysterious spell that beguiles
the expert hunter into baiting his trap with his own heart
hoping it's irresistible to the fox he wants to take it.
And this is that dawn of a new day that arises like
a strange exorcism of everything that's ever possessed you before
as you greet every ghost in passing off the lake
the same as you've always done, the waterbirds.

When someone loves you and you're no one,
what then? You stare as I do at Venus in the sunset
and write long poems that tunnel through mountains
like work trains full of precious ores that glow in the dark
more intensely as it approaches like a lantern from a long way off?
Or is it just another firefly at the end of my nose
casting galactic shadows across the time and space
it takes to behold them in the furthest reaches of my mind?

I sense a gentleness I haven't known before.
I see a beauty that's as easing to the eyes as moonrise.
And the seeds of words that haven't passed between us yet
are already beginning to open their eyelids and flower.
And there's a soft gray blue sky with a scattering of ashes
to honour the dead and give the wind its due
I can see spilling out of the urn of your heart
to make room for the phoenix I am about to give you
as if it were child's play, when I'm with you,
wholly absorbed like light into bread, to rise from the dead
and feel hunger again, to drink from the fountain mouths
of fire again, and desire and long as I once did
and imbibe the wines of life as if I'd never existed before
without cutting my tongue on the taste
or succumbing to the inconceivable as if everything
that followed thereafter were the afterlife of the inevitable.
And this is the era in which you know
you've already tied your blood like a scarlet ribbon
around a gift no one can determine the value of
if she opens it in wonder, haste and love.
And this is the moment you dread the joy of
when death tastes as sweet as birth in the mouth of life
and autumn lives out of the suitcase of all its memoirs
like the blossoms of a manuscript that has come to bear fruit.

I saw you and you were a gazelle at the easel,
painting the moon like a beauty mark on the forehead
of a sacred slave girl dancing naked in the light that released her
like a butterfly in the jaws of a dragon she could awake with a whisper.
I saw you in a gust of stars, and felt the wings and dust devils
sprouting out of my heels to let me ride the thermals of my heart again
as if the long, dark, strange, radiant journey I'd already come
were merely a hair of the way I had yet to go like the sole copy
of a love poem I had committed to the wind so hopelessly
such a long time ago when my solitude could play
the rosey-fingered sea like a musical instrument
that could make the waves sing like mermaids
without a plectrum or a pick or a ship, as long
as there was desire in your fingertips and urgency in your art.

When someone loves you and you're no one,
what then? Let them be everything to you even
if there's no you to be anything to. Pour your emptiness
into hers and fill the cup up to the edge of the moon
and let it spill over with light as if it had a leak in it
bigger than a record harvest in the horn of the moon at full.
I've cut star wheat in a virgin's hand
in a total eclipse of my senses
and touched flesh as if it were fresh bread
cooling on the windowsill of a hungry man
who can taste the light in it like letters from a child hood
far enough away from home to learn to love it again
with a second innocence more indelible than the first.

As for me and my treehouse with open windows,
I shall welcome a songbird on the cusp of Leo
to every branch and rafter of it, or if need be
at sea on the moon, in the event of a storm,
a lifeboat fashioned out of my own bones
to hang on to like the eye of peace in the skull of the dragon
who looks at you and reads you like fireflies on a starchart
delineating a new constellation out of homeless space and time
and a habitable myth of origin for two exiles in love
among the sacred groves of the rootless trees.

With you I have not come to revere the pain and longing
of hungry ghosts hanging on to every blade of grass
like a flag at half mast in a high wind.
I have come to appeal any destiny
that doesn't bear the seal and signage of your heart.
Nor will I ever surrender any sword to your waters
that wasn't first tempered in the translucent fire of diamonds
that feel like a fool of cool water running down your skin
like a spring thaw of the crystal chandeliers
that melted down their spear points into rain,
that dipped their swords in wax
and trimmed the wicks into fuses
and lit them up like Roman candles
such that my eyes and my heart
are still flowering wildly with you in these starfields.


Comments about When Someone Loves You And You'Re No One by Patrick White

  • Khairul Ahsan (7/23/2015 10:01:00 PM)


    I've read your beautiful poem and am simply amazed! How beautifully you have poured your deep emotions into the verses! The following lines are simply superb!
    'And this is the delirium of a window the moon drinks from.
    And this is that jewel of a tear that didn't
    make a big splash on the rock like other tears
    and by that you know it's a diamond in disguise'
    (Report) Reply

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Poem Submitted: Sunday, May 20, 2012



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