Patrick White (September l5, l948 / Campbell River, British Columbia, Canada)
Too Much To Say Good-bye To Though I Had
Too much to say good-bye to though I had,
I sat down by a fork in the road and wept
into both my hands like a flashflood
in the dry creekbeds of my lifelines,
lightning over the nerve endings of the shedding trees
my heart shrieking like a red-tailed falcon
with an arrow in its wing, my life
uprooted like mandrake and ginseng
as I remember every woman after that
I ever said yes to was a truce with the pain.
X-rated, vampiric muse with the style
of a chandelier at the death of a candle,
witch of the retrograde sixties, you never age.
The night retains its mystery, though the day
grows old like too many stiff springs
in the matresses of the faith healers in a turf war.
Hellebore, bella donna and deadly nightshade
I’ve kissed Medusa on her eyelids in her sleep
and tasted what she dreamed of before
she became the queen mamba of black prophecy.
Spider on a widow walk, you took the Tarot
too seriously and stopped weaving mandalas
of undulant silk like the aurora borealis
drifting like the fins of Oriental goldfish on the wind.
O it was beautiful to watch you work your magic once.
A transformative experience I still like
to look back upon like a waterlily in a cauldron
of frog soup fit for a prince of darkness
carnal as the starmud of a tenant farmer
on a summer night in the sweat lodge of his pores.
If you empower the dark roots of the mystery
the stars will come as naturally as wildflowers
to the nightsky, or the potpourri of black roses
preparing a deathbed for a lover to lie down upon
with you in their arms like a new moon
things get done under like a spooky affair
with silence it’s a taboo with its tongue cut out
to talk about like shoes gossiping about a firewalk
on the other side of the door where you took them off.
You wouldn’t recognize me now among
the vagrant souls exorcised from this furnace
of life on the first cold night at the end of October
waving farewell on the road of ghosts where
it turns down into the birchgroves and out of sight
having cleared the creosote and starlings
out of the chimney pipes with a voice as thick as fire.
Will I live again? Is it necessary? Did I do it wrong
or was there never a right way to proceed?
Or should I ask for reparations for the tears I shed
like a sundial that foreshadowed its own extinction
like a nightbird on the same wavelength
as a snakey dragon saint in a black boa
of gathering storm clouds summoning
the lightning and then the rain to cool
the burnt heartwood of the pine that once stood
like a man on a hill that looks back over its shoulder
into a valley it just passed through guided
by a surrealistic starmap of dragons with the charms
of fireflies, as he turns and goes down into the one
you apprenticed him to walk, whistling
inconceivably in the dark without you
as he casts the deathmask of his shadow up ahead
as the only path where love was meant
to surpass itself like a moment from the past
that overtakes tomorrow like a light
it can’t run from followed by a night it can’t run to.
Comments about this poem (Too Much To Say Good-bye To Though I Had by Patrick White )
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