Just listen to what’s going on inside of you
with your eyes if you can for one thought-moment
and you’ll hear the sound of chains
falling off everywhere like ripples of rain,
and there will be no insistence
on what you must be
in the black mirror
that envelopes you like night.
I’m making you up
even as you’re sitting here
telling me how real you are.
Real or unreal, you can’t
make a gate of one
without the other passing through.
I’m painting a picture of you
that you will never be
and it keeps changing in my mind
as if it had a life of its own
and could dream its own way
through the sleepwalking world
like a theme of reality
beyond enlightenment and delusion.
You can go on trying to prove or disprove who you are
like a waterwitch looking for wells in a mirror
at the crossroads of a weeping willow
but I’m resting easily on the moon
like an old meteor contaminated with life
drinking wine from my own skull
as if I had already stumbled across
the shoreless cup of my last afterlife
and had all the time in the world
to risk my own weather like the sea.
Or listen to what you have to say
like someone trying to stick
to an unstageable play
that’s on tour like a crosswalk
trying to see its name in lights.
Either way, it’s all right, it’s all right.
I’m not playing backgammon
with the tiger’s stripes
to clarify your delusion
or trying to pull thorns
like the first and last crescents of the moon
out of the wave-maned lion’s paws
to ease the pain of being you
like a tide that never reaches its own coasts
like a bird buffeted back by the wind
or confuse the joy of your extinction
when you’re not
sticking yourself like stars
to the flypaper of your own mystery
as if all that shining
all your firefly constellations
above and below your feet
were already the fossils and starmaps
of your invariably personal history.
It’s a slow boat
that looks to its wake
to determine where it’s going.
Life’s more of a stage than a play to me
and it isn’t just one play going on
it’s many plays simultaneously
and in the vastness of a space
without inside or outside
we hold all those voices
like the sky holds its stars and birds
or a single human heart
everyone who’s ever lived
without having to play all the parts
or master imperfectible arts
to put a smile on a tragic mask
or teach a fool to know what a fool is.
Just listen to the sky with your ears
and for the first time
you’ll recognize your own face
without a mirror
and the colour of your eyes
will be grace itself
and there will no end of the theme
that runs through all your dress rehearsals
like the understudy of a bloodstream
caught like a doe in a spotlight
who died of stagefright
when the only part she had to play
was the stage.