Sitting In The Dark Waiting For A Life - Poem by Patrick White
Sitting in the dark waiting for a life
to catch up to him that’s never going to come.
The future already in his wake, his shadow late,
the content there, but the timing off,
a sundial at night, a waterlily in winter,
the light of that one lonely star above
the tarpaper roof of the laundramat
shining for all its worth like a thing of the past
trying to shed a light on now as if memory
were just a seance a ghost books into early.
He had his ferocious reasons for living once
but they got carried away like wallflowers
by the picture-music of his calling
and began to dance for themselves.
And it’s still the remote hope of a man
who has tasted love even if he eats his heart out
like a sacrifice to himself on the altar
of a false god somehow everybody will be nourished.
That not everything is worthless
he’s wasted his life upon going mad
like a crack in the windowless clarity
of remaining stark, raving sane. He got out
of the cosmic egg. He sees how vast the universe is
as he journeys the length of his wingspan
from one event horizon to the next.
You can tell by the firepits of spent emotions
on the moon, hic erant dracones, dragons were here
and they’ll be back like bracken in the urns of their ashes.
Eventually even the light resigns itself
to the shadows it casts like death masks
over the dreamscapes that perish in him
like eyelids that have seeded the wind
with everything there was to see in life
that took root in his starmud like fire and earth.
Like the faces of people he attempted to love
that always come to him this time of night
like the priority of a labour he failed at
or they him, though it doesn’t matter anymore.
He can smell the vague fragrance of distance
in their hair, and when they look at him now
as a few occasionally do, surprised he’s still here
as if their eyes continued to share the astounding secret
of who they were then to each other, he remembers
stray moments of intimacy when the stars first blossomed
and love was a modest entrance they made into the dark.
How soon the road wearies of those
who don’t walk it as if there were no end in sight
of how far they could go if they only realized
the going itself is as predestined as it gets.
Sad, yes, but no regrets, even if his persona
has asked him to say that as if it weren’t
just another mask he’s talking through
thousands of lightyears alone from home,
exploring his devotion to the anguish of culpable stars.
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