Treasure Island

Patrick White

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

Grey Day After Grey Day

Grey day after grey day, little nicks and slashes
of insight, the Mongol compound bows of her lips
or the angel, Jabril, when he enveloped Muhammad in Hira
like two bows placed symmetrically opposite each other,
embraced by a Sufi experience of inclusiveness,
or was it the neck of a black swan enthroned in its own reflection,
free association of the word made light, but at this late date
I don’t think I can forget anymore than I already have.

Nor really want to, wholly, though the pain
sometimes burns like a matchead of white phosphorus,
tentacled jellyfish when I think of the translucency
of her aquiline eyes, the terrorism of their beauty
when they fixed on me like an innocent walking by.

I sleight nothing. Not a hair on her head, not one plinth
of the starmaps she smashed at my feet like chandeliers
in a sudden ice-storm in November. I was her tree.
She was my nightbird. Things were always as clear
as a glass menagerie between us when she wore her horns
like the moon in a china shop, or a viper, or a garden snail.

Always knew a day would come when
all I’d have left of her would be these memories
like fossils of the constellations we used to walk under
as I pointed out through the gaps in the wild apple trees
the Andromeda Galaxy, two million lightyears away,
as the furthest thing in life the naked eye can see,
though it was obvious to me at the time, once gone,
o is it still so inconceivable, she would be.

Just look at me, I’m weeping like a window
for the lost phases of a moonrise that’s never
going to startle me again with the same madness
I felt around her as if I could see for the very first time
in eras of trying to imagine, what a dangerous drug
love is to be addicted to after a single taste for life.
Demons revel in their sins in the darkness and dance
with slumming angels on an eye-level with paradise in hell.

The temperate homogeneity of these grey days doesn’t know it,
but I remember, I’ve lived it, apocalyptically
when joy grows so intense it’s a darkness that burns
like the portal of a blackhole hourglass that tears
the sea star of your soul apart galactically
like trillions of stars passing into a whole other world,
worlds within worlds in every one of them
and life and love and wisdom and who you
thought you were reverses spin omnidirectionally
and you can see more deeply into the heart
smeared like a rage of lipstick on a black mirror
than you ever could into the guileless blazing of the white.

Submitted: Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Edited: Friday, September 20, 2013

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