the side porch sessions

earlier, a hummingbird busily
inspected the bricks, perhaps
mistaking them for other,
more sweetly yielding reds

and now Charlie, incongruously tattooed,
the color of strawberries and cream,
leans against the rail and half laughs
about the man who tried to kiss her
down at the bar

two gin and tonics in, and the dusk
rises to dark – and down the street
something has disturbed the crows
into scolding wakefulness

I am fresh from my first bad dream
of the man I’ve been seeing,
feeling frayed and fragile – but not
seeking any reassurances

a year ago, I wouldn’t have wanted
to know my neighbors this way – and yet
here I am in the middle of another side porch
session on a warm night with too many cigarettes,

trading not a few bottles and bad jokes
between these strangers who have become
somehow (sneakily) a half dozen friends
and one just-fallen-in-my-lap lover

who leans against the ivy-covered wall
and catches my eye in that all-knowing way
that says he knows me in ways
I don’t even know myself and aren’t we
just the luckiest fucking ones

© Sarah Whiteley

Hoping I don’t need to apologize for the profanity in that last line – the intent isn’t to offend, but to capture what these warm nights spent on the side porch are really like – crass, and vulgar, and full of drinking, smoking, playful banter and some surprisingly deep and meaningful conversations.

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channeling the crazy crow woman

how must I look – this graying
Botticelli who walks with crows
in a constant spray of black cawings,
a dark-feathered wind I would not dispel

one is for Sorrow, two is for Mirth,
and the bursting laughter of those first
brought the flock that now follows glossily,
seeking tidbits from one who says “well hello”

but oh, how the superstitious must
inwardly flinch (irrational reflex!)
and it’s funny to me how a feather can
so clearly draw a divide between them and me

pshaw! and caw! to all of you fragile-minded
things – flightier even than crows –
they are a gift the same as my mad curls and I
will revel in them both for as long as life allows

© Sarah Whiteley

My mom insists that I ought to write and illustrate a children’s book about the crows that have adopted me. Truth be told, I’d already had a few half-formed thoughts about that before she mentioned it. Trouble is I’m an impatient sort of artist – I want to feel the immense satisfaction of completion before I’ve put the proper amount of effort into it I think. The result of course is sloppy art. Ha! One of these days I’ll put down a few sketches and see if I can muster the enthusiasm for such a project.

In the meantime, I do sometimes wonder what sorts of thoughts are going through the minds of the people who have given me odd (or yes, even shocked) looks when walking by the entourage that is me, two dogs, and anywhere from 2-12 crows (depending on time of year).