Patrick White

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

White Void For The Moment, Quiescent As Paper And Canvas - Poem by Patrick White

White void for the moment, quiescent as paper and canvas,
a little white square in the middle of my heart
as a psychologist once said, startled and wide-eyed,
and there's no one there, as if I were the simplest
of impossibilities. Could be. But who would be there
to know what it might make a difference to, or care?
Some purposes fulfill themselves or maybe
the quality of peace goes white in the winter
as it does in the dove, so as not to attract
undue attention to itself in a snow storm of poems.

Or maybe, sooner or later, even reality
comes to realize its suprasensual ground of being
is misconceptualized from a word or a name
that has the creative power of one of the shapeshifting lords
of the dead metaphors that get brought back to life
with no idea of where they've been in the meantime.

All of genesis in the first word, the to logos,
the whole table of contents of the imagination, now and to come,
the alpha and omega like the short and long vowels
of the sacred syllables of picture music,
apple bloom playing the dead branches of its leafless violins,
and the grammar of a living medium of animal images
and the shamans who entered into their visionary agony
painted on the blackboards of our native skull caves
where we worshipped bears dressed in the hides of humans.

The happy beginnings quit and the hard-line endings go on forever.
I'm back here at Long Bay, like the long story
of a lifemask that's been passing itself off as me for light years
sitting alone around a daylily of fire
giving a private lapdance to the wind,
scattering stars and leaves and smoke around
all over the place, as if it were looking for something it lost
in a panic to retrieve it from the passage of the mindstream
like time unravelling the seams of all things
unstitching the constellations like the wavelengths
of the enfeebled threads that kept our wounds together
long enough to heal into the crude ores
of terraformed scar tissue that might smoulder
like a starmap of brown stars over the course of time,
even when it's been mined out like the open pits of the moon,
no light bulbs in the sockets of an empty skull
but never shines the way its eyes used to
when you could look through them
like reflecting telescopes into the sidereal splendours of the soul.
Before it discovered the unbearable solitude
in the nightfall of pain, and the white apparition
that comes like the silence of a nurse in soft shoes
to sow its mouth shut to keep the others
from waking up on the night ward from their dreams
to discover like a wild rose at the end of summer
that everything is terminal, our departures and arrivals,
our exits and entrances alike. That there's a holy war of one
deep in the heart, win, lose, or draw, day and night
that goes on without respite that even for survival
the crazy wisdom of a compassionate warrior will not fight,
our human divinity not something to be won,
but a birthright, a square of light like a faceless stamp
on a loveletter that melts like a snowflake
as soon as it alights like a star on the furnace of the heart
and the ghosts of our tears return like rivers
to the oceanic awareness of the bays
we sit beside listening to the spiritual white noise
of the cosmic events, in bliss and sorrow,
we once lived through like the mirages and muses
of a tomorrow that came too late to celebrate our absence.

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Poem Submitted: Tuesday, August 21, 2012

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