I Miss You

Poem By Patrick White

I miss you like a burn victim misses his face, misses the sky he used to wear like skin. I think I'm dying tonight; Friday night, wandering from unfinished room to unfinished room, trying on coffins, looking at death in the shedding mirrors, wondering what my life has amounted to, a raindropp in the desert, trying to green the hourglass time raises to its lips, twin goblets, drunk on sand. I want to bleed like a bell for the unfathomable reservoirs of human pain that have yet to be endured as the original tears of life, the rocks weeping, and even the mountain eventually burying its proud face in the hands of its valley. I have heard the stars weeping, and been crippled by compassion for the wounded rose of blood, all the petals and eyelids and tongues that have tasted themselves on the thorn. If I have ever been a lantern on the road, a star you could follow home like a river, a tree that stood over you for the night, a shadow that summoned you into the light, black honey buffed with the flowers of revised constellations taking their seats in the revolutionary parliaments of the night, now I'm a kind of indecipherable braille hanging like black holes and severed chandeliers of pleading cherries beseeching wicks and filaments from astringent space. Look at what life has done to me; look at what happened to the candle. O just once more to yearn like the moon for a beginning, for an eyeless passion that hasn't seen itself out to the end like a ladder of worn thresholds ribbed like a man. I have drunk from the fountains of great teachers, great spirits, enormous suggestions of the soul that have emptied me like the echo of the world into a vastness as impersonal as the first word of creation and I have tried to be brave enough to see deeply into the night in my voice, the clarities and luminosities that have their seasons in the high fields, the wells that lament the aging of the morning brides torn like tents, the cocoons of the light abandoned like the exhalation of a last breath, I have tried to add my understanding like a planet that could thrive like a torch in a mansion of secret wines. I have tried to say whatever I was becoming without wringing the moonlight out of the tide. I have not lied about the poppies in their dream gowns of evanescent fire; or transgressed the humble shrines of the grass, or forgotten the progress of the girl robed in swans and willows in the eyes of the crone. And I have been withered too much by suffering to be flattered by the tendril of my name growing like smoke on the lips of the seeds. I assumed my throne like a pauper where the fire burned the clearest, and established the realm of my seeing in the crumb of a dream I rubbed from my eyes whenever I awoke to the illimitable domains of my nothingness. And I have counted the prophetic skulls of the demon moons as if they were a forbidden rosary that pearled the darkness, and been amazed at my affinity for the hopelessness of their vilified freedom. I sleep with an eyelash like a sword between myself and evil, one fuse unlit, one world that hasn't gone off like a rocket at Halloween. But when I consider true goodness in others, cooling like sweet bread on the summer starsills of their openness, I am always left feeling dangerously intelligent by contrast, and lacking, as if all modes of virtue were the happy sluglines of compromised yesterdays I use to start fires in an iron heart on a winter morning. Though I be condemned to the subtleties of the most intimate torments, incommunicable agonies of erosive condemnation, there is still a lie I won't tell myself to be worthy of heaven, because I will not dust the earth with my wings, I will not corrupt the integrity of the suffering of my humanity with any paradise that isn't born of its substance. I will not fail the rag of my poor flesh even on the eve of defeat, the tattered sail of blood that turns this boat of bones into the wind to come round again in a salvo of ferocious defiance. A gesture of the air, no doubt; a lethal folly, but the plank of my nature. So keep your angels away from me until I am a peer of the struggle, until I have won a parity from intensities I could never defeat. Until my humanity is an indelible word in the mouth of God, an ink, a wine, a thread of blood, that stains the lips of God with the inexplicable mystery of my contradictory existence. So much undergone, so much of becoming and transcendence embodied and dissolved in the shapes of shadow, blood and water, and love through it all, tears and laughter, the mingling of illumination and eclipse, one firefly of the spirit thawing glaciers and fierce eras of brutal evolution, one thought snuffing the stars like an eyelid. I love the heresy of vaulting the horns of the moon, the first and last crescents of the dilemmic parentheses that enclose me like an aside to an actor prompted offstage by the whisper of his own understudy dying ambiguously in the very next scene. What's a flower, what's a life, but a play on tour, directed by the cuts and takes of the wind and the light? Everyone in the audience, alive and wounded, sentenced, is on death row where every star that shines through the bars is the sprinkling syringe of a fatal injection, or the motherlode of the mystically deranged.
I miss you. I could love you so perfectly; even the errors in harmony. I could be the pillar of a temple of water; I could be sufficient for your sake, a curtain of shadows on the moon to cool the hot swan of the light that sails through a window wide as space. I could be something more in your presence, something I've never been before; the whole cosmos out to the most estranged star, hanging like a dropp of water from a heron's beak, a witching-wand that trembles with watersheds everytime it divines you. I think of gently taking the moon in my teeth, of kissing you on the neck behind your ear, of the season in your hair, the supple concession of your lips, undoing the star yokes on the beast that draws the wagon of this corpse to wander off road in the bestial freedom of its ecstatic vagrancy. I could know you like a fish knows the moon, underwater, could swim to you from here, or rise to your hooks as if they were stars, and swallow, or be a dragon heaving off its lake like a robe of water with wildflowers and the open eyes of the rain shaken from the folds of the eclipses and eras of its wings. You could empower me to risk an excruciating excellence of devotion; an eloquence and exquisitivity of perception that would compel my eye to turn the light around and look inwards like a black hole for the firefly in the casket of its telescope. However far I walked through a desert of lunar salt, excoriated by ferocious purities like a bone with the wind for marrow, no two footprints of mine would ever be the same, nor would the moon, so much like the heart, ever drink its own commingling of light and shadow from the same cup twice. I think of the things that could be; the air saturated with light trying to fall like rain; the blood efflorescent with poppies, with gypsy profligates, outraging the startled goodness of the wheat by dancing lasciviously with fire. Out of the air, out of space, out of time, living on nothing, I can almost make you happen before me like an event so intensely imagined the curtain had to open on a troupe of improv stars on tour among the constellations. The abyss of an eyelash away, I can almost touch you, taste you, feel you reach out for me like a bay of space, hear you call my name like a homing bird sliding like love-letter under the doorsill of the wind. Grief can call people like that, but it is love that is the gate-mouth of my answering, it is love that conjures you out of this galactic cauldron where I cannot pull this sword of light from the stone of my heart like a letter without bleeding like a crimson sea of candlewax to verify the seal of your enthronement in the kiss of every impression. The truth is too brief, and the lies are too long to be the suitable luggage of love. I'd need something like a seed, a cocoon, an eye, a lantern, a star to travel radiantly through this darkness as fragile as a kite held aloft by a feather of fire, my spinal cord in your hands, or strung across the musical snakepit of a lifeboat guitar like a powerline, or a clown riding the bicycle of his glasses. The seas once gone from the moon, love alone can keep the whisper of water alive.
I saw the full moon in the window through black winter branches, and I thought of you in sadness and love, and wondered if your eyes fell upon it like rain as mine did.

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