Patrick White

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

A Little Thought In A Big Space


A little thought in a big space, I'm falling
through my own immensities here at my desk,
one of my Icarian propensities for plunging into things.
My voice intimidated by the violence of the silence within.
I'm on the dark side of my eyes.
No one's ever been here before.
No window, no wall, no door,
I'm on the threshold of my homelessness again.
I'm looking at stars, but I feel like rain.
I'm talking to ghosts that I don't remember.
Might be the wrong medium, but it's the right seance.
I don't even know what I'm doing here myself
but it seems I'm free to go or stay as I wish.
I'm wearing my shadow like a candling parachute
that didn't step back from the edge in time.
No point in pretending you're an airborne dandelion
when you feel like a rock with a message
someone just threw like the moon through a mirror
disguised as a sky the night birds keep flying into blind.

No one asks your name here on this pyre of a sky burial
if your birth certificate says you were born in fire.
Desire anything you like. It was all written in smoke
before you came. And these words that are saying me here
have been out of the aviary of the lantern for light years.
Who knows where the light goes or what if falls upon?
Trying to shine in a dark time without taking anything away
from the lunar eclipses that aren't in need of enlightenment.
Don't know if I'm a solar flare, a firefly, a matchbook,
or a lightning bolt that keeps stressing my starmud out
by sneaking up on it from behind and overdoing things a bit.

If you find yourself trying to pry the flowers open
with a crowbar or a koan, and it's nightfall, it's
time to turn your hourglass in for a waterclock
and see how the stars emerge out of nothing
as soon as you deepen the dark with a more acute sense of timing
that let's everything happen spontaneously by itself.
Even if you're the lighthouse of your dreams
that doesn't mean you're the nightwatchman
keeping his third eye on you in the shadows
like a theft of fire you can get away with
this second time around with only a warning.

If you can't do the time, don't do the crime.
And if you did, whining about it in your sleep
isn't going to help and who's Spartan enough these days
to stash the fox under their tunic to keep
from being caught while it eats them alive?
If you want to be a dragon you've got to learn
to swallow people's hearts like hot coals as if they were chocolates,
without wincing. The stars don't come out
like emergency candles you've been saving
for exactly this kind of situation. And if
you really want to know the truth about illumination,
try and blow one out. Quick, now, look
and see immediately into the clear light of the void
what it's like to shine without a metaphoric reflection.

The stars here don't hide their nakedness under a cloak
of black holes and dwarfs that take it all in
but give nothing back like the second hand clothes
of serpents shedding their skin. One size fits all
like a bubble in a watershed of dark worlds
dazzled by how much a single eye can contain
whether it's hanging from the lip of a flower in the fall
or going down the drain in spring. I know
you hit it like a snowflake on a furnace
and do your damnedest not to cry. Thing is
as unique among billions as you think you are,
there's not a star in the sky that isn't a rite of passage.

Submitted: Sunday, September 16, 2012
Edited: Monday, September 17, 2012

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