an hour’s inventory

in the shadow of the butte –
the river, its stones,
the ghost-shells of
two crickets, and
a fly breaking
the surface
of a rill,
but never
its song

© Sarah Whiteley

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fresh as new nothing

high above the canyon, the bumblebee wears its band of orange as it slips into the lips of the lupine

I have clamored up the steep creek, braving the slickness of rocks and roots for this spoon of solitude

up here, I am as anonymous to the wind as fierce-clinging heather – alone with ballads of bees and fresh as new nothing

© Sarah Whiteley

I’m slowly adjusting to my return to “civilization” after an adventure in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. Mostly I am trying to hold onto that feeling of space and freedom for a while longer, but more posts about my experiences are sure to follow in the coming weeks. And for the first time, I journaled my experience with the help of a little weather-proof notebook my brother and his wife brought me on their last visit. Very handy!

preparing for a hike

poacher’s knot,
lark’s head, and bight –

until I find
which ropes to break,

I will tie them
to my own purpose
instead

© Sarah Whiteley

I have been spending some time getting my gear ready for a solo trek into the Alpine Lakes Wilderness later next week. Last night, I spent an hour outside just before dusk, getting my new tie-outs ready for the tarp and finding great satisfaction in tying my knots. Maybe it’s just me, but I think there’s a certain grace in knots – in altering the shape of rope (or in my case, AmSteel) to suit a purpose.

Once hung, my tarp will be shelter and comfort, will allay the winds from the ridge and keep me dry. A bit of fabric, a length of rope, and I can be at peace in the wild for a time. If only everything could be so simple.

buttercup

knowing you already have
the company of stones,
and wanting a remembrance
less weighty,
I brought to you
the single beam
of a wild buttercup
plucked from among
its golden brothers,
drifting even now
unfettered in the field

where nearby children
may be heard shrieking
in play with each other
and with the barking dog
under the watchful eyes
of a woman content
that they will be tired
after this brilliant-skied
afternoon frolic

and even nearer,
the cedar the artists
come to paint holds
the newest fledglings close
until early one morning
and quite unexpectedly,
it will dawn on them
that they are the sky-born
and their falling
will become instead
their glorious flying

and down the street,
the runners run
past the park where
I imagine you stopped
to watch the swallows
plummet at dusk,
enthralled by just what
hollow bones can do –
and wandered back home
to with relish write
of growing wings

© Sarah Whiteley

the maps are out

hot coffee, and the maps are out –
the rise out of Box Canyon
an uneven line of red

a map may tally an ascent,
mark the twists in a trail,
lend certain assurances

what it cannot show is emergence
from a stone-heavy world
into the mercy of pines –

into the stalwart grace
of a waiting mountain,
where the rushing creeks sing
and the winds hum along

© Sarah Whiteley

early morning hike

I wake well before dawn
so that I might walk
with the mist and the fog,
each of us finding
our own path up the peak

yet loving the damp bark
of the lofty cypress
in precisely the same way –
like light suddenly unbound,
eagerly embracing all
it can and cannot name

those who would say
a mountain does not breathe
have never placed their feet
where feet have not yet been –
have never found the river
that flows into the mountain
and does not come out again

© Sarah Whiteley

My newest chapbook Wandering Wonderful is now available for pre-order from Finishing Line Press. Pre-orders through March 22nd will have an opportunity to win a canvas print of the cover art. Click for details!