More Purpose In The Absurdity Of Shadowing Your Dreams

More purpose in the absurdity of shadowing your dreams
like a star you vowed to be true to, a small candle of love
buffeted like a starling in a hurricane off path as is
the way of the heart, without going out- -off course, lost,
but burning nonetheless like a daylily in a drainage ditch
beside the road that’s taking you on a firewalk among the stars
the long way home, less reason to despair of ever
finding a meaning in life that transcends the banality
of common sense with the longing of a nightbird
for immeasurable joy in the hunger of the fire that consumes it
without destroying the mystery in the irrationality of its song.
You want to burn. Not burn out like the infirm heart
of a waterclock that goes on forever with or without you
as if you were always drumming for rain to hide your tears.

Water-sylph, mistress of mirrors, muse, you who whisper
ecstatic clouds of silver insects into the dusk not
in the likeness of life, but life itself, as the starmaps
of the nocturnal waterlilies put their blooming to good use
like a lost expedition of cartographers trying to find themselves,

it’s too late in the day to betray what I’ve loved most
about my life, not so much to add my say
to the white noise of literature, but to listen deeply
to the voices that emanate out of the heart of the things of the earth
as if there were always something beguiling to celebrate,
an intelligence fascinated by its own awareness of being alive
like a river, a rock, a star, a tree, to wonder like a watershed why.

Even in the midst of my most private sorrows,
the light’s been a shapeshifting glassblower that made
crystal skulls of my tears I could look into like the eyes of an oracle
and see the sun and the moon still shining
after the flower wrecking thunderstorm passed over the hills
and the sun drenched the dishevelled willows in gold
and the fireflies came out from under their leaves
as the stars from under their eyelids no longer dulled
like a patina of time on the newly washed air
but clear-eyed and shining like a chandelier at a waltz
not a sword hanging over my head should I speak false.

Ask anything from a god to a grosbeak for instruction
and they’ll relate to you didactically as a matter of course
as if you were listening like a sympathetic jury at your own trial
to the immorality of the facts that have been brought forth

but pay less attention to what you’ve got to say in your own defence
and nature will respond to your petition for disclosure of the evidence
lyrically. Ask God who you are. Who she is. And she’ll
start singing to herself as if you reminded her of a song
she used to know when she was a girl growing up like Helen
beside the banks of the Eurotas, like Isis who hides her face
out in the open like a veil of space no one’s ever going to lift
like a hundred billion stars shining eye to eye with you
as if you were the last place you’d expect anyone to look for her.

And, yes, it’s all been lived and felt and said before, but not by you,
not by the mystic specificity of the supranoumenal persona
that lives like a singularity in the black hole
of your insatiable, light-eating, star-swallowing soul
that occasionally loses its appetite for insight
like a blue whale for krill, or the moon for marine life.

Estranged as an undertaker at your own wedding,
or Joan of Arc in the blissed out ashes of a martyr’s urn,
dragon or firefly, prince of the pent house or Jedi in a hovel,
ploughed under like the archival middens of the popular demotic
or stutter like an accent through purple passages of linear B
there’s a mermaid sitting on the skull of Devil’s Rock in everyone
and she’s been singing like Love Potion Number Nine among the muses
for you, in particular, to shipwreck yourself on the eerie sadness
that haunts her song like the foghorn of your own voice
lost like a ghost at sea, passionately annihilated
by an attachment to the picture-music of your own imagination
that is no less of a Buddha activity than letting go
of enlightenment as the beginning of something delusional.

Factor the errors back into your perception the way
the earth receives the dead without disappointment or remorse,
knowing they will sweeten the roots of tomorrow’s flowering.
Follow your own river like a siren to the source
as if for once you were listening to good advice
and wary as you are of the repetitious side-effects
of going mad without fulfilling a fictitious purpose in life
rejoice in the clairvoyance of going with the flow
of your own mindstream, knowing that none
of the death masks in that collection of mistakes
you keep inter-reflectively projecting on the waters of life
ever gets to wear the same bare-faced lie twice.

by Patrick White

Comments (1)

Very well crafted poem. Enoch John