porchlight

it was as if all of every summer’s heat
had sunk into the worn boards of the porch

twenty years ago and I would do more
than simply sit beside you and tell tales

but here and twenty years backwards, I’ll admit
to seeing the lapsed possibility of home in you –

how the porchlight cradles your laughter
and not so much the door I can’t rush out of

without thinking if I’d only known you then
we would have been that much more

even in leaving, you’re all and everything
though everything arrives too late

even my feet, in finding their way away,
feel the impossible promise of you

© Sarah Whiteley

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sobaka

the old woman laughs
and leans, with no small effort,
to gleefully scratch the dogs
there, behind the ears,
as if she’s known them always
sobaka, she croons, gap-toothed,
all wisps and grins
sobaka in Russia, she says to me
this tiny woman of fading gray
of tattered blue scarves
and little English
so out of place
and yet somehow not
under the scattering pink petals
of the cherry trees
is teaching me the word for ‘dog’
sobaka, I say smiling
her joy is infectious and full
as if in this moment
eighty years have pulled themselves
away from brittle skin
and the toll of toils
I will never know
to show the wiry girl of old
and all the love she holds
for a stranger’s dogs
this at least, I think,
we have in common
weeks later I see her
after the pink petals have gone
sobaka, I say
as she grins gapingly,
suddenly less wispy and gray,
and says dog

© Sarah Whiteley

The woman in the poem above is real. She is the sweetest, tiniest slip of a Russian grandmother and I want nothing more than to adopt her and call her Babushka. The joy she gets from petting Freyja and Angus is so real and so unbearably sweet, I inevitably find myself smiling as widely as she. We should all be so lucky to find such joy in something so simple.

The tax deadlines are over, and I am on the road back to feeling more human than machine. No more fourteen-hour days now until I get to do this all again in September. I’ll be catching up on some blog reading in the coming days – I’ve very much missed having the time to read so many of you.