crow funeral

this morning, I am the attendee
of another crow funeral

the fourth such curated cacophony
close followed by hushful reverence

yet this is only something eventual
finally becoming true

while elsewhere, the crickets
rasp hymns to the rain

© Sarah Whiteley

Anyone who has followed this poetry blog for any length of time knows that I have been accepted by a very special family of crows. For the past 9 years, they have been clownish companions who visit me on the porch, caw through my window to get my attention, introduce their young to me, and tag along on walks with the dogs. I have had to warn any dog sitters coming in that the crows recognize my dogs and will want to walk with them even when I’m not there. I have been entertained, enchanted, and delighted by them – even when they steal my lighter and drop chicken bones on my head (I think that’s a gift?).

This morning the family lost one of this year’s young – hit by a car while I was on my way to work. This is the fourth crow funeral I have witnessed, but the first I have seen from start to finish. While I would have much preferred to have a different start to my Friday, it at the very least serves as a reminder that animals are as capable of close connection and of mourning as we are.

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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

there are wiser things

cherry-blossoms-sky-cr-img_5624

take from them what you can –

there are wiser things than those
that carry discernible voices –

down the street near the park,
five cherries are marked with orange

distorted by time and poor nourishment
(it’s no surprise they’ve failed to thrive)

and within this Spring’s feeble pink,
parting unfurled and scattered

come July, the city and their saws
will pare them down to stumps

before then, the crows and I
will grace them with a last goodbye

not with pious pity,
but with a graceful thanks

for their green rendering
of unknowable sky

© Sarah Whiteley

what matter what light

what is there left to make
of this diminished light?

is this benediction? or a requiem
rung from empty throats?

what use in evading
the day’s extinction?

it is vespers, and the cantor
marks an inescapable terminus

what matter what light
is left to us?

for while there is any light at all,
benedicimus! benedicimus te! –

how wondrous the consummation,
how beautiful the end!

© Sarah Whiteley

mileposts

6:57 AM and light’s early overture
has warmed the cherry petals just enough
that the faintest scent of sweet emerges

maybe it’s more than just scribbling poets
who note these moments and mark the time,
mentally ticking off the mileposts to restoration

but this morning’s note is more than that –
today’s surfacing defines a full ten years,
and the cherry trees have bloomed to remind me

when my bus crosses John Street, I lose it –
cry quietly against the window at sunlight
pushing obdurately through the newest leaves

but by tiny degrees, I still find comfort
in the indomitable certainty that gently-scented,
spring will always return where you cannot

© Sarah Whiteley

A little sad today – marking the 10-year anniversary of losing my little brother. Don’t think I made a complete fool of myself on the bus – at least I hope not. I do find the cherry trees comforting. The bloom does go on.

On a side note, I do not recommend beginning spring by simultaneously breaking your toe and ripping the toenail off. Can we say ouch?! Yes,… yes we can. With a few other choice four-letter words thrown in for good measure!

counting the dead

a woman at work innocently asked
and where’s your other brother?

even after ten years I often cannot
bring myself to say he’s dead

so I said Minnesota instead,
which I think he’s probably laughing about

wherever he is or isn’t

saying now that I have one brother
feels false as soon as the words are formed

so there must be a way of counting the dead –
but until I find a math that works,

I have two – although one of them currently
is unreachable somewhere in Minnesota

© Sarah Whiteley

I really did say “Minnesota” though I don’t know what possessed me at the time. And he would be laughing over it, which makes me smile. But I still never know whether to say I have two brothers or one.