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


I have a pianist’s hands – long fingers – straight wrists – and a stretch that spans two notes above the octave

a seer once held my hand and foretold three consuming loves, and none would remain by my side –

after this last, I consider myself consumed –

funny how the life line moves on strong and unbroken – a pity

if there were a split, I might just jump the tracks and begin again elsewhere

with pianist’s hands – as yet unconsumed

making things work

tonight just the hint-est of moons
and my own breath to obscure it
the cold makes my hands hurt
as I fumble in my pocket
feeling for the surety of keys

someone today, in no doubt naïveté,
informed me I must not have wanted
to love him or I would have
found a way to make things work

as if somehow by forcing the faucet
to open all the wider more than air
would descend into that cracked sink
in spite of the break in the water main

I didn’t have the breath left to tell her
ain’t nothing that easy, but either she’ll
write that chapter for herself or bleed out
shaving off bits of herself to make things fit
that just weren’t meant to be

© Sarah Whiteley

the impossibility of regret

follow the narrow rain-coursings,
the leavetaking tracks of drops
that have fallen and rushing
run off, down, run away
from or toward bearings
unknown and unasked –
try to draw them back,
the wanderers, as if
they never escaping had not
dispersed with the best
of our bold intentions
that, you say,
is the impossibility of regret –
you cannot gather it back
to refill what has been spilled
but maybe this is why
the heart is migratory
and built for goodbye

© Sarah Whiteley

in the end

when these hands
rest together still
blanched as paper
beneath poised pen
when these feet
have rounded
every blessed bend
and are raised in repose
when I am no longer
quiet with potential
but only quiet
tongue held by the time
no longer ticking
through my veins
when thoughts are final
no longer fleeting
when words
no longer scurry
to the page
and the notes
no longer sound
the limitless walls
of beautiful minds
let them at least say
something lovely
I have left
be it the blaze
of a blinding sun
or a whisper
against the dark
in the end
let beauty
lie behind

© Sarah Whiteley

what’s done

you speak
of the ardor of us
as if it still breathed
pulsed between us
lighthouse guide
of our nights
our flighty days
but it’s yesterday’s sighs
then that quivers
to the thready
beats of time passing
when my fingers
lent yours
delightful animation
you speak
of the soul of us
as if we were still
as if time and distance
had not piled
against us
diluting us from then,
from when,
from now

© Sarah Whiteley


so what are we to do
we two?
you over there
me right here
you with the woodpecker
perched in your birch
and I with the crows
flying in fractured arrows

so what do we say
you were then
I am now
you with the trees
ringed round the yard
and I with the streets
cracked and scarred

and so who am I
this time?
I who was yours
once and then
you who were mine
again and when
our time was not mine
is no longer

© Sarah Whiteley