Tag: fear

down east

it was late November
when I drove toward Maine

I still hear how the wind
tore across the highway,
rattling doors and nearly
blowing that tired red Buick
into the frozen ditch

I had second, third – hell
sixth thoughts on the other
side of the state line,
but I kept right on –

forward was the only
way left even though
the pines all pointed
back the other direction

a body ought to listen
to things like weather
and the wind and when
either one isn’t at your back,

it might be that’s a sign
you should turn right around
and that just maybe somewhere
down around western Mass

a right instead of that left
might not have inflicted the kinds
of change that would alter the slant
of a year’s share of wakeful nights

but winter’s nothing way up there
if not a lesson, and my toes
nearly froze during that storm
when I tried to find my way

five miles on foot up that hill
to somewhere never home
through fourteen inches of snow
in flimsy shoes with branches
dropping shrapnel all around –

a few other things nearly
froze over, trust included,
and it’s a wonder I thawed
out at all and can carry on

as if it was nothing more
than a freak nor’easter moving
through or a turn in the wrong
direction against the wind’s advice
two hundred or so miles back

down east was the only place
I’ve ever had to lie to live
or pick a lock to save my own skin
five degrees below zero –

twenty minutes spent just chipping
at that ice to use a bent hanger –
something I used to think only
worked in the movies but prayed
to God it could be otherwise

in the end hope won out
and I fled west with a new
appreciation for thick soles
and the warnings pine trees
and a good strong wind
might heap at a vagrant’s feet

but these are the things
I don’t speak of

and thank-the-lord don’t often
think of, save now and again
when a freezing wind
rattles at my windows –

some frenzied remnant
fighting to be let back in
and sometimes –
the old familiar ice still
finds a way beneath the sill

© Sarah Whiteley

Know this is outside of my norm, but have been wanting to clean the cobwebs out of this particular closet for a while now. Wrote this years ago and never posted it as it never felt “right” – but have reached the moment when I’ll tweak and peck it at no more. And in return, it will tweak and peck at ME no more!

turned earth

I had determined
(after the last)
to no longer offer up
the root of myself

let it beat
(I thought)
for nothing other than
to mark the time
passing beneath my skin

but then hands
(so mercilessly capable)
dug in and I am as earth
freshly turned and raw

and the root
(remembering yearning)
has caught the rain of you
and strains again
toward sun

© Sarah Whiteley

on timidity

I hope that you can
forgive the cocoon of me –
the heart tight-wrapped
in tiny silks still
thrums to the sounds
of your laughing

© Sarah Whiteley

I know when it is I am burning

I know when it is
I am burning –

when the sparrow
in my throat
bursts free from
the fretful gravity
of kisses nearly pressed
but not

and when gazes
glance away
from what has not
yet been but is almost
said and left to hang
between

I know when it is
I am burning –

when on the verge
of crumbling into dust
I find myself at precipices
and am far too fragile
to bear your touch
without incineration

but if at night
I may find my boldness –
and peace in being
still beside you –
then I pray time
will consume the day
and love bend
light away

© Sarah Whiteley

attraction

I am a bewilderment
of limbs –

a profusion
of uncomfortable truths –

and as a result,
am ungainly beside you

all twisted fingers
and benumbed tongue

but lit up inside
by fireflies

© Sarah Whiteley

untitled

crow night’s star-dusted feathers
drape her blue-black whisperings
covering over the green of gloaming
in the absence of light
I fall to forgetting
eyes tight-closed against
the possibility of loss
feather-tipped unknowing
brushes away the dust of hope
nothing gold can stay?
then I pray in the wake
of crow night’s flight
as she drags her wings across the sky
let me be dark-tarnished
by my lust for living, love of breath,
my over-attachment to my own skin
and how its pores open
to every dream, every wish imagined
when it lies against his
let me not be cold sparkling
as the stars tucked into the down
of crow night’s breast
but soft, quiet, unshining me
let me not fade with the stars at dawn
but breathing, linger a while longer
a dim Venus pressed against my love
eyes wide open
with the possibility of tomorrow

© Sarah Whiteley