letters to _____ – vii

in the fading hours
when light rolls
thin as skin
into the deepening blue
of shared night
I am as alive with you
in this dark
as the night insects
who wake to vibrate
each leaf into being
even by the stars
you remain sun-dipped
and redolent of day’s heat
I would have you tight held
and as wanting as I
exchanging breath
for pulse and tendons
taut with expectancy
for the benediction
of pressed palms
and the song I become
beneath your fingers
all questions of want
addressed by lines of proof
laid down by mouth
to shadowed curve
but more than all
I would have
the quiet best of you
close carried as the self’s
most secret pleasures
sealed safe
in hallowed certainty
beneath exalted night

© Sarah Whiteley


  1. This is beautifully, and movingly, written and it has prompted me to search back for your previous poems in this series of ‘Letters’. They are all lovely, and as they trace a trajectory (a familiar one) they are well worth reading in sequence.
    Do you mind if I question one tiny choice in your poem above? (I have benefitted a lot from critical thoughts on my own blog). I doubt whether the light in line 2 would ‘roll’ if it is skin thin. Might it not settle, or float, or slip?
    On the other hand I relished so many other lines: the night insects, the sun-dipped, the breath and pulse, the taut tendons, the song beneath the fingers, the lines of proof …. …. and others. Magical stuff, Sarah.



    1. Hi John,… thanks for the feedback. This is something I prefer to receive via email as I feel it is more likely to strike up a conversation that way; however, as you posted in the comments, I will address your question here as well. I had a specific image in mind when I thought of that line and I hope I can maybe lend some clarification here as to why I selected that particular word. There is a certain way I’ve seen a very thin mist lie within a valley and appear to roll its way along between the hills – it very much looks is if there is a fine layer of light rolling as the sun hits the tiny water particles. It is one of the more beautiful things I’ve been privileged to see. To me the words “settle,” “float,” and “slip” do not convey the right movement. It is more a breathing, organic, almost tidal movement. I hope this explains something of what was behind that particular image?

      I’m pleased you’ve gone back and read the letters series and enjoyed them! As ever, thank you for your comments! 🙂



  2. Thanks Sarah. I’m very interested in your thoughts on this, and I see why you chose that image. I like your description of mist in a valley. You write with great precision, which is one of features of your poems that I most admire – and that prompted me to enquire further into your drafting.
    I hope you will delete or edit this exchange of comments if you feel it does not belong on your blog.
    Meanwhile I look forward to more flows of the ebbtide!



    1. Not at all, John! I just find I prefer email for this sort of exchange simply because in the past it’s garnered me a few e-friends and some really great discussions about process. Whereas with comments, I find they tend to be very formulaic (comment, response) without much room for further open-ended conversation. I’ll leave the comments as they are – who knows? No doubt there’s someone who was wondering the same thing! 🙂 Cheers!



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