Patrick White

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

Not Less Than The Sum Of All My Yesterdays


Not less than the sum of all my yesterdays
this now without origin or end as the stars
turn from summer to fall and the lake
is all farewells, herons, geese, Aquila
and the Swan, in the sad demotic of waterbirds
that echo among the hills as if a ghost
were crying somewhere among the shedding trees.

And I don’t know if it’s just me, or time,
or the gene of an ancient sorrow that hasn’t
been named yet, or the eerie coiling and uncoiling
of the low lying fog chilling the air
with spectral possibilities of seeing something
when you’re not supposed to be there,

like a child sharing a bedroom at night
with her own imagination after the door’s closed
and the lights go out, and the darkness
has been smudged by wishful dreams,
and the moon is huge and bright behind
the glowing curtains like a veil on a face
with an unbearable smile she dare not open,
but the waters of life have grown remote
and unfathomable as tears in a strange solitude.

As if the drowned were about to claim the lake
as their own again or a love story that was
still mourning how tragically wrong it all went
a hundred years ago, and would be for the rest
of its unexplainable afterlife, suddenly revealed
how shockingly beautiful she had been
in a frock of homespun moonlight and bare feet
sitting on a rock watching the waterlilies gather
like soft, evocative candles around her as she
slipped as easily as an otter under the waves
to become as sacred to them as she had been to him.

As a great, vast open silence holds a finger to my lips
and says, hush, human, her absence is not
a negative space that can be embraced
by shading in the background with broken mirrors.
Years haved passed and the water still cherishes
the memory of the wound she entrusted to it.

Submitted: Tuesday, September 24, 2013
Edited: Wednesday, September 25, 2013

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