Patrick White (September l5, l948 / Campbell River, British Columbia, Canada)
That Moment Of Love When Life Calls To Itself
That moment of love when life calls to itself
and the summons is answered creatively
and people and things come forth, the stillness
moves and the silence is a song sweeter than words,
the darkness, a shining brighter than the light of stars.
All things are flowers of the mind even
the absence, even the shadows, rooted
like river deltas of lightning in the marshlands
of lilaceous starmud breaking into waterlilies
that enlighten the heart awhile with a beauty
born of perishing, as if all eternity were
included in it, just for a moment, a mystery
beyond wisdom when the words fall away
like petals from the calyx of a star to reveal
the dreamer in the lotus of her emptiness.
Like love, at times, it seems the light
is a kind of impoverished darkness. Bright vacancy,
dark abundance. The candle on the windowsill
of death is a grave-robber opening the eyelids
of the seeds like tiny coffins by the spring.
I’ve seen the radioactive wavelength of the water snake
hunting chlorophyll frogs among the wild irises
harbouring their eggs like the future in the eyes of life.
Happenstantially, it appears. No purpose. No motive.
As if meaning weren’t the end term of what
there is to live for, or why, not even the seeking itself
the grail I’m drinking my life from to green
the ailing kingdom. Love is a happy tragedy
however long it takes the light to get to know you.
To humanize the seeming vastness and indifference
of every star that awakes from its grave within you
like a prophetic skull that’s just had a dream
of a creation myth that leaves the vital heart
of its endless beginning, unexplained. To gentle
these dragons of the abyss with three feathers
of moonlight laid like the three best breaths of life
you ever took, wonder, gratitude, and praise,
each in its own right, the waterbird of an atmosphere
that takes the whole homeless world in under its wing
like a dark mother and gives it shelter for the night
as if it weren’t in her nature not to love
the wayfaring stars that show up at her door
lost, taking their eye off their own light
in a labyrinth of rootfires burning like a starmap
of New England asters to show them where they are.
This is earth where everything we love perishes
like a return journey strewn with plinths and petals
all along the way like the hands of a circuitous waterclock
that renews what flows away on the mindstream
whispering into the ear like the dream of a night creek
to a man walking in his sleep toward a voice he knows
as the woods know the nightbirds. Wake up. Wake up.
We’re almost there.
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