first snow

so cold, not-quite-rain
hisses through the husks
of the locust pods

later, this ice will gentle
into hushful snow –
which absolves all,
forgives everything

and for a blessed hour,
every branch will
outshine the moon

© Sarah Whiteley

the raccoons

that silver morning at Shi Shi,
the chill we rose to a mere shade
of the deeper cold to come

we’d had visitors in the night,
our tents encircled by prints –
two sets surveying our strangeness

then breaking away to wander
to the edge of the sea,
twining in close loops together

we followed with our coffee
trailing steam from our mugs –
careful not to efface the evidence

© Sarah Whiteley