Patrick White (September l5, l948 / Campbell River, British Columbia, Canada)
Now That I've Got My Little Sandcastle Of An Apartment
Now that I’ve got my little sandcastle of an apartment
nearly complete with what I’ve got to work with,
I’ll wait for the tide to wash it all out to sea,
though it’s getting harder every time to begin again.
Ebb and neap. Neap and ebb. A kind of breathing
with a brief pause full of peace just before
it returns to its former state, irrevocably changed.
A pulse, a penumbral eclipse of the Hunter’s moon
in the northern hemisphere. I look for Venus
in the west just after the sun goes down and it
doesn’t really matter if I don’t see it, but if I do,
it always renews my sense of wonder affirmatively
at why I’m making such a fool of myself going
through all this over and over again like
the most recent definition of the insane, looking
for a different effect, irrevocably, as I said, changed.
The poetry lives, but I’m losing interest in a future
that doesn’t include death. I don’t peel
my oranges anymore to get at the fruit of the moon.
It’s bittersweet, but I get the taste of the whole thing.
There’s a moonrise in my soul that works the nightshift.
I haven’t grown any older than my afterbirth
or baby teeth, or the booties my mother had bronzed,
but I’m tired of the north light in my windows
waking me up in the middle of a dream
to find all the birds gone forever with many
of my friends ailing like unhinged gateways
to gardens that never existed except
in their imaginations, though it isn’t compassion
to say so, or speak ill of the weeds. Find
what a human cherishes the most and you’ll
be amazed how few metaphors it clings to
like crown jewels for an apocalyptic coronation.
Corona Borealis soon overhead, and Gemma,
the jewel, shining like a maiden voyage
in the window of a tower in the whirling castle
of the Celts who spent their afterlife in Arianrhod.
Don’t look it up if you don’t have a mind to,
or freebase your own associations as if your face
just caught fire thinking about it. Out of
my comprehension now as I watch my erudition
slip away like a thief in the night that’s left me
inconceivably at the mercy of my own resources.
As if that were something new to labour at
like turning coal into diamond, darkness into
six months of the midnight sun out of the ore
of six more months of noon in total eclipse.
Of making my longing beautiful before
the unanswerable as if I were making the best
of my house arrest here on the earth until
I learn the knack of wearing an ankle bracelet
as a crown in the kingdom of freedom where
the poets reign an an eye to eye basis
of lunar calendars with cosmic views
of their mindscape abandoned in
the shabby kitchen of a collapsing farmhouse
where they grew up to get away as fast as they could
with curtains torn like spiderwebs littered
with the empty exoskeletons of the stars
scattered like ashes from their urns on nothing,
nothing at all, the cold chimney of a dead fire,
with their creatively ungovernable state of chaos
delegitimized by the lack of laws it made up
just to break to show you how to thrive on nothing.
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