I would I could

I would
I could stay
in those days
of skinned knees,
firefly-lit trees,
and the cool stretch
of evenings
the moon tipped all
her sweetness into
and in the far fields
chase the years
yet to come
up the grass-wrapped rise
where the stars
that held my eyes
touch and hold still
that spray of youth
when green, green
spread unending
and the honeysuckle hung
beneath the sour apple tree,
bare feet dangling
down below the boughs
without a care
for things like thistles,
or neighbors, or propriety
dear me,
I would
I could stay
in those days
where we played
evenings along the creek
so cold it crushed
the breath from our
fledgling frames,
thin as new foals
but spry as goats,
we plucked berries
as fresh as you can get
and as wild as the orphans
our mother called us
then grass was meant
for rolling down
and words like winter
and worry
were still
so very far away
I would
I could stay

© Sarah Whiteley

revolutions

I could not come to you unbroken –
just as day breaks herself brightly
upon the crests of dark rises
and every day the earth turns
to give her credence
and then turns again away
while she spills into oblivion –
but like her I gather
in soundless profundity
the offered hours in piles
against the rise of tides,
the turning earth,
to gird this fragile machinery
to which we are bound –
I could not come to you unbroken
yet I surrender the pieces
which suit best the beat of you
and wait once more for morning

© Sarah Whiteley

denial

when I am thus,
limbs laid out
at length
long after lights
have languished low,
the stray stayings
of you –
mere murmurs
of moments –
linger long
in evening’s teasings
of my curtains,
though they (I),
remain (not) tangled
in yearnings
of you

© Sarah Whiteley

how like waves
the days rise and rush,
fold and founder,
in this quieter collapse
of perceived shores
those hours I shooed
and shushed,
now distant as gulls
whose calls sound
time’s dying,
find placid flight
along the cooler drifts
of our remembrance
I trail you behind
like summer
at September’s end

© Sarah Whiteley

the flame tree

bide not, beloved,
tarry not long,
for the sweetgrass is calling
and the light is nigh gone

here in the hollow
where first you kissed me
I will wait, my beloved,
beside the flame tree

I will cut me a branch
as red as my heart
and whittle you home
where we’ll ne’er be apart

“oh!” cries the sparrow
“ah!” calls the crow
the hills will not tell me
where my dearest did go

stay not, my lover,
away from my hand,
for the blackbirds are crying
low o’er the land

they winnow and plummet
away from their rest
their song e’er repeating
is the same in my breast

oh, bide not, beloved,
leave me not by,
alone in the hollow
to wait and to sigh

“oh!” cries the sparrow
“ah!” calls the crow
the stars will not tell me
where my dearest did go

the wind’s in the rushes
the moon’s in the pine
the sweetgrass now whispers
you never were mine

consign me not, dearest,
behind the church gates,
but bury me gently
where for you I did wait

there in the hollow
where first you kissed me
I will wait, my beloved,
beside the flame tree

“oh!” cries the sparrow
“ah!” calls the crow
the flame tree will tell you
where your dearest did go

© Sarah Whiteley