sleeping bears

sometimes, between the long span
of months in which I do not
think of you at all,
I briefly consider calling you up
to ask you along for a hike

for a moment, not thinking how
having you there would so alter
the trail, that what lies before
would amount to steadfast avoidance
of what should be left behind

sometimes I consider calling you,
but let’s leave it there –
leave it as we would a sleeping bear
without the thaw of spring to shake
the old frosts from her fur

© Sarah Whiteley

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roundabouts nowhere

the question, always the same,
and the answer is that there are
so many blessed nowheres

she says she’ll have to find me
when I finally get that car,
when I finally succumb to go

she knows that I can write about birds
for only so long before I myself fly –
after so many years feeling
stuck and prayerless

the answer isn’t to find me
or to seek anything anywhere –
but if you begin to look for me,
try roundabouts nowhere

© Sarah Whiteley

the traveler, starting young

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I never was in so much trouble
as that time I vanished down the tracks,
losing sight of the afternoon,
small shoes balanced on the ties,
walking into evening between the rails

even at that age I could name goldenrod
and dog rose, Queen Anne’s lace and sumac –
could pick out moths from butterflies –
but had not yet discovered the word
for that unrelenting itch to wander

but mother knew the word and four miles later,
I was spanked all the harder
for the future loss of her daughter
who would disappear along the tracks
to find solace down some dusty road

© Sarah Whiteley

the winter roost

snow-crow-07
the crows come again, perch
within the remnants of summer –
turned to rust and rue;
they’ve come again
with their own narrative,
their inscrutable truths –
strike their own lines
against November’s sky,
while we try blindly (futile)
to navigate stolen darknesses;
fixed, and non-migratory –
roosting in huddled groups
for the long and empty winter

© Sarah Whiteley

*

thinking of those days behind the wheel, cat stretched across the dash, exemption stretched out along straight, gray highways

trying now not to swallow that hook, though lately it seems the city hates me, shoves me toward her swilled-to-the-gill gutters

back then, there was the bag kept in the back and it didn’t matter that I had to crawl through the driver’s side window to get back behind the wheel

what mattered was the chance to get out of here, wherever “here” happened to be at that moment, and now it feels that “here” is now once more

and I miss that cat more than ever

© Sarah Whiteley

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