And I Wonder And I Wonder And I Wonder

Poem By Patrick White

And I wonder and I wonder and I wonder
even in the midst of this harvest of wheat,
this windfall of apples, the siloes of the sun
full, and this blue moon coming back on
for an encore, if I have kept the blood oath
of my word, to God, the abyss, my mother,
myself. I have lived and died like a poet
starmapping the waterlilies in a swamp.
I have been true to the creative revolution
of the sixties when imagination was given its due.
I have not practised more than a verbal violence
against the churches, slumlords, social workers,
truant officers, and their children who sit
on the garbage can lid meditating like frogs
on a tin lilypad while people are entangled
in the drowned roots of the slime they’re engendered by.

I have ruined my life in the pursuit
of an earthly excellence the mediocrities were not
capable of. I was a golden boy for awhile
with an overachieving future prescribed for him
down to the women I dated and left
because of their attitudes toward people
on welfare, who, in politics that matched
the couch in their minds. were the reason they suffered.
You know how many beautiful women
are ignorant louts inside with about as much love
as a praying mantis for a sulphur butterfly?
Some mirrors are meant to be smashed.

Yet these were the people I wanted to impress
and be accepted by to make my Mum proud
of her womb, and say, hey, there may be more
like me at the bottom of the garbage can.
Why don’t you stop by sometime and take a look.
I was young. What a laugh. So I made my own way
book by book swimming through hidden watersheds
in the moonrock I polished into crystal skulls
like the lenses in the telescopes I used for easels
to paint my way home, because my mother
had been an artist, but I ran out of Prussian blue,
and the plain truth is I’ve been homeless ever since.

Alone. Though women have tried to do
the best they could. And I’m grateful for
the poems they inspired in me, and the days
I let my sword be used as a ploughshare,
and the fields I rocked like cold meteors
in my starmud in an attempt to be fruitful and multiply.
Possessed by their beauty and their guilt,
I was demonic enough to understand the exorcism
when it drove me out into the wilderness
pelted by ostrakons for being more intense than appropriate.
Who am I to say anything was wrong
with their ongoing assessment of the mystery?

The cooper cut his barrel in half
and burned out the last of the whiskey,
but I wouldn’t mistake me for a flowerpot
just quite yet until you see what I’m growing
when I sow my path with dragon’s teeth
instead of the usual rose petals and thorns.

Far from the bunting lambs and goats
of sacrificial religions cutting their own jugulars
like psychopaths, I keep the scimitars
of the moon sharp and haven’t forgotten
the point of my horns among the stars
in the long days and nights of these
circumpolar ways the ancient dolmens
taught a tiger burning in black and white flames,
taught a dragon at the forge of its sword-making soul,
to keep the princess of the spring equinox
and the pauper king of the autumn in exile
in the same heart-shaped locket they’ll be buried in
together, illicitly forever, like blood in holy water.

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