TENDERLY THE EVENING DESCENDS INTO A DARK BLISS
Tenderly the evening descends into a dark bliss
and lays its poultice like a cool leaf against my forehead
and draws the fever of the day out of the night.
I ease back on my elbows like an easel down by the river.
When I’m burnt, I make a blister
and cushion myself with water,
a more useful approach to tears.
The mosquitoes swarm like insistent circumstances
that thin my blood, but a soft wind
is blowing them away from Pearl Harbour.
The long blue grass yields as easily to a man as a deer.
I want the stars near enough to overhear what they’re whispering.
Still amazing to me I can embrace all of them with a thought
as if they were my idea in the first place
and feel humbled and exalted at the same time
by the sublimity of their radiance and the strangeness of my own.
The river sustains its clarity by wandering.
Single male in the autumn of life, I’ve let go of so much
the only thing left to let go of is the letting go itself.
I’ve forgone the commotion of inducing myself into creation.
Things will fall out by themselves. Playfulness
return to surrealistic perversity
to explain the shape of the universe
and fools like me counter-intuit the crazy wisdom
of squandering their lives on voices in the distance
leading them on deeper into the subtleties of a poetic narcosis
that haunts them like the face
of a beautiful woman they once knew.
Don’t we all belong to a nobility of longing, even though
we don’t live up to it, and start to grasp and scratch
like dead branches screeching across
an intransigent windowpane on a stormy night
that let’s us look at the fire, but doesn’t let us in?
Where do you go with your serious spirit
when you’ve been rejected by your solitude?
Do you know the secret art of being enhanced
by the qualities of anything you’re not attached to,
without killing off the desire for what you’re missing?
Live with gratitude for the abyss in your heart
it’s impossible to fill like a grave
that took more out of you than it put back in.
You can be adorned by your failures.
You can be humiliated by your victories.
Coming and going, your path can be strewn
with roses or thorns. You could be walking on stars.
You could be lying down beside a river at night like I am
savouring a sorrow you like the poetic taste of,
because it includes everything within it
like the skin of the dew and the moon as the source of life.
Even sweeter than a rainbow body of light
or an atmosphere with ocean to match,
this last touch of clinging before you evaporate
into the mystery of everything you’re leaving behind.
No more than you can pour water out of the universe
through a black hole, can your mindstream be poured by time
into the uncomprehending darkness of the black mirror
you’re looking for an image in tonight
in the eyes of all these stars shining down upon us,
knowing our starmud is just as old as their light
and we’re not wandering orphans lost in their shadows.
We’re firewalking on water like stars in the shapes
of self-immolating swans, two parts flammable
from the start, and one of oxygen like a toxin
we depend upon for life like an alien export we adapted to.
Same with death. Until you include it in the nucleus,
inviting your enemy in to feast behind the gates
that laboured like water to keep life in the seas,
you’re vulnerable to the delusion of your own exclusion
like the face of an exile in your mirroring awareness.
Don’t underestimate the creative potential
of the dark genius of death to come up
with new paradigms of seeing and being
that make us feel we lived our whole lives
confined and blind in the coffin of a seed
that stored a harvest of what we’ve reaped in a silo.
Out of the dead ore of the moon
pours the white gold of wheat
like metal from a stone in a starfield
that yields more life than can be lost
in the living of it. Without a sword. Without a ploughshare.
Isn’t it in the nature of our evanescence to move
like light and water and wind from urn to urn
of one sky burial to the next at sea and then the earth
like a water clock that runs so urgently
from full to an emptiness that has to keep expanding
like the human heart just to contain it
so when the cup’s broken like a skull
you can drink the whole of the sea and the sky
in every single drop of your mindstream
and the stars will still be climbing your roots
up to the flowers within that bloom every year
like a deepening insight at zenith into
the dark generosity of becoming something
even beyond the scope of death to imagine extinct.