Patrick White (September l5, l948 / Campbell River, British Columbia, Canada)
More Peace Than Death In The Quality Of The Silence Tonight
More peace than death in the quality of the silence tonight.
In such a vastness, after so many turnings at the crossroads,
I can feel you breathing in the dark within me
as I used to watch you dream for hours
in the glow of the fire on an ice bound night
when no one was on the roads like buttered mirrors
and only the shadows and moonlight moved
like ghosts that were sure of their footing
and the elastic cats were stretched out in the warmth
like deserted shorelines as far as they could go
as if they never wanted to come back to themselves.
My love for you burned like a poppy of blood
in the white gold of the wheat of my body
I offered you like bread, as you, yours to me,
wine that had been crushed like wild grapes
from the vineyards of a thousand new moons.
Though space and time be one continuum,
dimension and direction, vectors of shadows on a sundial,
two feathers of the same flightpath of a nightbird
that disappears into the silence of its longing
as if it had found its voice in the stillness of the immensities
that enclosed us like two secrets that revealed
what was intimately human about the mystery of life,
just to feel the light gathering in my eyes
as I looked upon your face the way the stars
shine down upon the earth was always and only
as far as I ever had to seek to know why I lived.
The journey finds itself like a planet around a fire at night.
And all that is huge and incomprehensible about love,
is contained in the watershed of a single tear
we shed in joy as it floods the heart to realize
how wrong our starmaps were for so long about so much
though they try to fix our brevity to a time and a place
and a myth we could look up to when we’re lost
all we ever had to do, rooted in each other’s starmud,
was let the shining find us, even on the coldest nights,
like flowers blooming in the soporific aura of a fire
while your eyes were dreaming like a nightstream
under its eyelids of ice, and mine, for all the lightyears since
my seeing has ripened in time, and this night is no exception,
were grateful to witness the poppies flaring
in the gardens of the afterlife of Orion as near
as a pair of cardinals taking shelter in a snowbound cedar tree.
We burned brightly together for awhile, did we not- -
two flames of a root fire folding its wings
like a love poem I wanted you to find in the morning
that didn’t return to its grave like a ghost of smoke
lingering long into the dawn of that hour you awoke
beside me, the sun gleaming in the crude chandeliers
of the icicles and the snow fronds of the ferns on the windows,
though things that were near and familiar have been
estranged by space and time, and the melting roads we once
walked down together in the spring are long gone, I write to you
in warm tears as I did that night in the glow of a fire
even after all these years, that can still take the chill off the air
as if the flames in the heartwood of the lives we are consumed by
refeather the dragons on the pyres of sumac, even time, though
it’s cold and cutting, can’t blow out like stars flowering on the wind.
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