You Say You'Ve Taken All The Tension Out Of Your Life - Poem by Patrick White
You say you've taken all the tension out of your life,
but to me you've just planed a mountain range
into a parking lot. Your sacred syllable is flatlining
like a synonym for death, and your eyes,
o those eyes were so blue once
I could have made a cult of the colour
and happily sacrificed myself on the altar
of a sky burial where the angels reverted to ravenous birds,
but now they're one way windows on a braille runway
for blind aliens on the Nazca plateau.
You talk like a tourist guide
with a photo-shopped cheeriness
in the same tone of immaculate voice
as if genesis were beginning all over again
with a logo in the mouth of a vociferous abyss.
I believe in your natural kindness,
those summers of feeling so much like August
out in the fields of an abandoned farm,
where the light kissed the fieldstones on the forehead
as sweetly as it did the eyelids of the wild flowers.
I believe in the integrity of your search,
the sincerity of your confusion, the sway
of your compassion for cellular tissue
over the ideological abstraction of the living details
extracted by vampiric points of view.
Life is messy, soiled, tantrically spoiled,
and even when the moon spices the wine
with love potion number nine, most of the time
we're still drinking out of a dirty cup,
but I know you're not blind to the rapture
of the fireflies showing off to the stars,
or the waterlilies shining like a starmap in a swamp.
You see the green candelabra of the maple saplings
rooted in the decay of the mothering stump.
I know there's love in you. I've gone
pearldiving in your sea. And whatever
the coral reefs that rip the hull
out of your moonboat now, I've seen
that great Atlantean heart of yours
and its irrepressible buoyancy
rising to the surface like a breaching whale.
You don't need a broom to sweep
the mirages of an encroaching desert off your stairs.
You don't need to cherry-pick your delusions
to accommodate a school of gerry-mandered gurus.
Just let your thoughts roost like birds at dusk
in the black walnuts for the night, and rinse
the stardust off your wings in the Milky Way,
or the Pleiades if you want to take a bird bath
before you dream at cruising altitude without a flightplan
or course correction, of bettering the world we are,
by washing it off like a smear on a myopic mirror
that's impatiently elitist about its perfection,
though everytime we do, we're sure to leave,
even if we have the rainbow body of a Tibetan rinpoche,
a galactic rim of human rime around the tub.
Delusion is the doorway to enlightenment.
Samsara is nirvana. Noumena, phenomena.
Even a mirage, a feature of real water,
however many times its been reflected
like the echo of a dragon in the valley
that's inexhaustibly as deep as the mountain
is insurmountably high. Sweet one,
sometimes the mind might be a chandelier
of fireflies making up the dance as the wind blows,
but it's definitely not a crystal skull
goose-stepping to Deutschland uber alles
to spiritually cleanse the world of aberrant translucencies
that move more like the wavelengths of mindstreams
among the symbologies, than the autobahn
among its traffic signs, or road kill
along the dangerous fast lane highways
to the artificial paradise of an inert motel
in a gaseous state. Why throw out the garden
and keep the gate at attention like a Roman legion?
There are no locks or lost keys, one-winged hinges
that have to be retrieved from the river
we threw them in like a tribute of silver swords
when we first stepped into the open out of the void,
or endless pages of grass to part
like the Book of Total Knowledge, Volume L,
like the bloodied waters of the Red Sea
or the civil war we declare on ourselves
like ambassadors in chains, trying to secure a freedom
that was already ours indelibly
long before we were born to live it creatively
in the vaster spaces we return to on the inside
with heart, with immense heart,
like the fruits of the earth
we've all come here to gather
with the worms and the birds, the wasps,
the raccoons, the groundhogs and the humans
to deepen our awareness, to sweeten our insight,
to feel the bliss of an expanding universe
taking a great cosmic risk in the darkness
like the first time with a lover,
that the path to enlightenment begins here
and leads everywhere to the windfall at our feet.
Who insults the feast by bringing
a loss of appetite to the table as a spiritual gift
and though you don't read the menu,
ask for a guest list to make sure you're
seated above the salt of the earth in the right place?
Shakespeare suggested we assume a virtue
if we have it not and make a habit second nature.
One of the chief uncharacteristics of enlightenment is
it can't be abused because it doesn't have a face to lose
and there's nothing to imitate except a second head
growing on top of your own, you don't know whether
to crown or stick pins in like the eyes of a voodoo doll
to confuse the issue of taking full advantage
of this as it is, like a singing bird in an apple tree,
the light and the rain and the flaws in our song, in bliss.
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