Heavenly Light

Heavenly Light
Read to see the light

Monday, February 04, 2008

Al Young...California Poet Laureate

WHAT YOU SEE ISN’T ALL YOU GET

“I used to paint dots. Very neat ones. Not anymore. Wild woman now.”
— Mary McLean, celebrated Aboriginal painter of Western Australia

What you see isn’t all you get: night moves the sky
of mind aside enough to let imagination gush in.

Remember the last time you got quiet, then got high
on Mayan, Nubian, African stuff? Grecian? Russian?

Remember how the child-you stepped through scenes
without leaving a trace, your eyeprints all that mattered,

your cave-art heart the clearing ground? Soul cleans
away debris so we can see and feel the heart shattered

under a blanket of daylight come back to hunt us
where we live. If you can touch Hatshepsut with an eye,

then jump to John Brown just before he confronts us
with his death, then you can lose the your, the my

you see as us alone. Most seeing is a mausoleum
laid out with memory-traces, fictions with no breath.

Can death be ore than yet another mask? The Dogon
of Mali, they’ve mastered the mysteries of Sirius B, a star

astronomers stumbled on just recently. To log on
in real-time, turn up at the Art of Africa exhibit (not far

from the pre- and post-amnesiac Americas, or New
Guinea, Indonesia, Polynesia, Central Asia, dream-time

Australia). Wrap your spirit around sculpture the big you
knows already by feel and by heart. Why nickel and dime

your love-leaning, meaning-hungry, beauty-starved self?
Bury the thought-smart you just long enough to stun and wow

the being-you: a living stream of light. Wade in the wealth
of unfathomable years whose moments you can only know as now.

Al Young

(from Coastal Nights and Inland Afternoons: Poems 2001-2006)

Commissioned by San Francisco’s deYoung Museum of Fine Arts to celebrate its spectacular re-opening of 15 October 2005.


Al Young' Website

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