old friend

tonight I and the quiet
make a companion of the rain
whose soft staccato taps
at the window as if
asking to be let in
this – the first silence
in weeks – is as welcome
now as any old friend
or comfortable shoe
we fit, you see, without
straining and fill
without words (without
asking) the nooks
and bends of the other
’til I am quiet and quiet
is me and all is right
with the rain coming in
on the sill

© Sarah Whiteley

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sweeping up

so many of the places
where we were are gone
as if an unseen hand
were sweeping up
after us after closing
after the late shadows
have pushed the last shreds
of day into quiet evening
even then there were crickets
and smells of coffee shops
and wisteria that dripped its
scent like soft voices
calling after us after we passed
newspapers and shared quips
and lazy meandering walks
counting mosses and lilacs
and cats slinking from porch steps
our last spot – the one
we most called ours –
will be gone within the year
and chairs, tables, cups,
and flowered cloths will be pulled
from our little corner
where none but our comfort breathed
walking by in late afternoon,
the hollow sound of an empty cup
as it hits the table
echoes in blooms within
birthing sudden ripplings
in what so often now lies still
so that the pinch makes me pause
we may not recover,
but we do walk on

© Sarah Whiteley

returning

I have been gone
too long from here
from lulling grasses
rustling keen kisses
at the magnolia’s feet,
white petals bruised
to scent, sharp
and sudden as the flap
of a finch flushed
from beneath the boxwood

the watchful eye
of a sentinel moon
rises low and hangs heavy
between black branches
our absence has grown wide
and horizons have grown hazy
where will I find you again,
if not in crushed petals,
or clinging, freshly unearthed
to thready roots of rue

I bloom nonetheless
though something hesitant
shifts within and grows restless
tired all at once of waiting
for what is yet unreturned

© Sarah Whiteley