last evening in May

the last evening in May
and the dogs are still,
stretched beside the window

as still as the trees
whose wind momentarily
has no urge to prove itself

the light nearly gone,
still there is a lone
hummingbird in the plum

and two house finches
gazing outwards, sitting
squat in the window box

I smell rain tonight,
and the spice remaining
from tonight’s dinner

on the dogs’ last walk
this last evening in May,
we’ll see the Sound

and on the far side will be
mountains, which I know remain
snowy behind their clouds

© Sarah Whiteley

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I go out

I go out, and come back –
to the low voices of everyday
concrete saying stay,
voices that are each time fainter

I go out, and come back –
in sun, in mist, in rain –
and each time the tether
is less, and closer to temporary

each time the river’s shout
grows louder and I am more
cedar and stone, more
singing creek and warbler

I go out, and I am more
simply by being less

© Sarah Whiteley

advice to the weary

when air grows heavy and tired
from too long falling,

day’s last birds will dive down
and in rising, shake it out before them

something, at least, is vibrant
is the message beaten out by wings

when you are lost, find stone that will
hold sun with radiant stubbornness

and if you lose your voice,
seek out wide swathes of grass –

for it’s grass that sings when
all other songs have gone

© Sarah Whiteley

April windstorm

the winds that rushed in yesterday
to strip branches of their blooms
flipped trash can lids, sent them
spinning down the street,

cast crows into chaotic aeronautics
and sent all songbirds deep
into their shrubbed shelters

but today, they come out singing
blithely tumbling between trees,
the sidewalks surprised by pink –
awash in piles of petals

© Sarah Whiteley

Sweet William

yesterday, I carried a sprig of Sweet William
three miles to a favorite poet’s grave
simply because you do not have one

and there, the trees were a free-for-all
of birds – oh, gorgeous, noisome riot!

some other Spring mourner before me had left
a tiny, silver “s” of a snake – something you
(poet, brother) both would have appreciated

each year, I am less clever, more gray –
but only this newspaper clipping of you ages

© Sarah Whiteley

what the day contains

brown drifts of coffee grounds,
and the tappings of the black-capped chickadee
finding rhythm with the tick-ticking
of spring rain on new-green locust leaves
the passing hours mold the morning
into the firmer lines of day,
tracing the flights of fugitive birds –
red hawk, wren, house finch, crow,
ubiquitous dust-winged sparrow
shadows lazily skate and shift,
thumbing plants and spines of books,
shelves graced with inconsequential treasures –
of feather, stone, and sloping shell
the peonies on the window,
barely beyond their prime,
settle into fading brilliance
with unabashed aplomb
and if it might seem I forget you
amidst this gentle roster –
you’re the one, though absent,
who gives the hours their reason
and this simple room, its light

© Sarah Whiteley