You Were The Intimacy

You were the intimacy
of the things I loved
that were so impossibly far away
I could never reach out and touch them
except by touching you.
In the long silence of these past thirty-seven years
I have never been able to look at people again
the way I used to see them before I met you.
There's a fear in the way I love them
that I learned
from living your absence.
A deep black wounded space within
that has sadly outgrown the stars
like October outlives its fireflies.
And every threshold I've crossed ever since
has turned into a long road
with a precipice at the end of my spinal cord
swaying like the first night I met you
on the Capilano Suspension Bridge
and you said
the only way
to overcome your fear of falling
is to have the courage to jump.
And I laughed and said
staring into the gorge
and the thin silver water down below
what's to fear
if you know how to fall toward paradise?
And you knew right away
I was your kind of challenge.
And I knew you wanted
to sword-dance with razorblades
you laid out like the Tarot
later back at your place
as if you wanted to convince yourself
you were still silly enough to believe in tomorrow.
The candle beside the cards on the floor
didn't turn out to be
enough of a lighthouse
to warn us of the approaching storm.
We were sincere in the darkness
for a little while
astounded by the expert innocence
of our mindless flesh.
You shone like the sun at midnight
and I came undone like Icarus
to prove I was falling
without regrets
like a spent star
into the singularity
of a whole new universe
where everything that didn't happen in this one
came uncannily true in the next
for both of us
as if we were at last worthy
in each others' arms
of our own happiness.
When happiness is brave
it's bliss.
And when it's afraid
there's nothing sadder
than a gift that was never opened.
Joy is a warrior that risked hoping
there was nothing left dying for.
Sorrow comes up with a million reasons.
The only way of life
is not making a way of life.
Nor making
not making a way of life
a way.
One day you just get off the road
and start taking the long way home through the starfields.
You stop looking in the mirror
to see if you still have eyes.
For years after your death
no matter what I looked at
I always saw the same thing.
The black clarity
of your existential absence
staring me in the face
without turning me into stone
because that would have been mercy.
Try how I might
I could never quite
shut the lid on your coffin
or accept
that you were buried in me for good
or that my blood burned
like the infernal red
of an emergency exit
to show me the way out
of heaven and hell
by falling on them both
like a two-edged sword
that killed me deeper into life
than your death ever did.
Either life's unfair
or I'm not man enough
to live up to your suicide
but I remember how I used to love
feeling the weight
of the nightstream of your hair
as it poured through my hand
like a landscape that could feel
for the first time in a long time
water running in the dry creekbeds of its lifelines.
Things woke up.
And I saw the flowers
among the thorns
that had been guarding them
like the secret names of God
you had to know
to get past the burning angels
through the gates
of your sad return to Eden alone.
The eloquence of your flesh
when you walked on the earth
as if your heart danced to your blood
like an old song we both knew
now a broken harp of bone,
a wounded guitar,
someone laid down for good.
A prophetic skull
without a future
anyone can foretell.
The full moon going down
like a spare penny
into a dry wishing well.
Me looking at the dark hills
like the contours of your corpse laid out
under a collapsed tent
as they wheeled you into the ambulance
to spend your first vast impossibly long night in the morgue
among the dead
who don't catch their breath
or break their bodies like bread
alone in the stillness
that can't distinguish one death from another.
However I wept for you
all the hard bitter baffled tears
all the sweet radiant wellsprings
that washed the dust like stars
off the wings of the birds
that had laboured to carry the souls of the dead
far to the west
when I remembered
how blessed I really was
that things had been
so beautifully dangerous for awhile.
And all the dark fathomless watersheds of lucidity
I drowned in like a eye in a grail
looking for butterflies in a suicide note.
All the black pearls
the diamond skulls
the eclipsed chalices
all the precious jewels of my grieving
that death hoarded underground
nothing in the end
but nameless water
frozen between the cracks
of a gravestone as old as the moon.
I remember how I loved your ice-blue eyes
and how they burned with an Arctic clarity
you had to dress warmly for
if you didn't want to suffer from frost-bite
but there's more nightshade in them now
than chicory
when I look into them like tundral flowers
and the light turns hurtful and eerie
when I recall how the melting snow
washed itself clean of itself
all those years ago
when we didn't know
what all this meant.
It's of little relevance
that we once loved each other
the way we did
and once you've exhausted
the meaning of signs
like galaxies expanding
ever more deeply into space
less significance.
What does it look like from Mars?
Your death was a koan
not a fortune-cookie
and the koan broke me
like a man it couldn't understand
rationally.
There is no scar for you.
You will always be
this open wound inside of me.
When I look at the stars
I can't dissociate beauty from absurdity.
I cherish their clarity
as something that can't be
contaminated by my eyes
when they're nothing
but two black holes in space
a snake-bite of the light
in the middle of my face
like a colon without the following:
the kind of faith
that makes what little is left
so incommensurably greater than what's been lost.
I can see the blue morning glory in the garden
as if moonlight had turned to skin
just to feel what it's like to flower
but I can't forget the frost
that fell like your death over all of it
when I went so numb
space turned into glass
and time pulled the blind down on the window.
I closed my eyes like a mirror
content to let the stars make sense
of their own reflections.
I gave up on directions
and burned my starmaps
and followed who I was
without caring what I became.
Absolutes of ice
spread like cataracts
over the relativities of the river
that went on flowing
as if nothing had changed
and my life was still a dream without eyelids.
A ghost would be easier to deal with
than the fact
that you don't exist anymore
except as bare bones
denuded of the world
like yarrow sticks
thrown before the Book of Changes.
But then I expect
you'd exorcise yourself
at a suggestion of the night
that the stars would be so much brighter
if you only blew out the candleflame.
You'd do it just to see
if things got better.
You'd leave me in the dark again
staring at the stars
like white ink
on a black loveletter
you left unsigned
as you disappeared into death
like your last breath on a cold windowpane.
I've long since forgiven you my solitude.
I've long since forgiven you
the severity of the wisdom
that hardened my eyes
like diamonds in the darkness
that could cut through anything
except my attachment to you.
I have forgiven you
for the way I have grown through suffering
to realize
how much I owe your death
and the terrible eyeless abyss that followed it
like an enlightened insight
into the impersonal nature of compassion.
I have forgiven you
the way I am spontaneously compelled
to love a world that is so estranged from me
I feel like water on the moon
trying to imagine what it must be like
to fall like rain on the intimate earth
with a reasonable expectation
of coming up flowers
that weren't destined
to be laid on your grave.
I've gone grey gathering them up
and bringing them to you
like bouquets of paints and brushes
that are ready at hand
should you ever wish
to pick them up again
and show me what the world looks like
without a body for a picture-frame
as you play the part of the upstart genius
who lived the black farce of creative pain
like the agony of the wick
burning at the stake like a heretic
between the flesh of the wax
and the spiritual aspirations of the candleflame
thrusting spears into space at the stars
as if the only way you could ever know God
if you ever met up
was by the scars.

by Patrick White

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