the waiting

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the waiting creeps up
from feet, passes hips,
submerges wrists
in slippery uncertainty

naturally, the ear
strains to catch
the subtle shift of air
that marks departure

no one ever sings
through the smoke
of staying –
love and smoke both
only ever go

sometimes you
get so caught up
in the leaving,
all kisses become
eventual goodbyes

another bottle
sits on the table,
waiting for me to
swallow myself again
with pretending,

for your feet
to recede down
the front steps
down other, more
diffident streets

© Sarah Whiteley

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the hours of you that remain

we say goodnight,
then goodnight,
and once more a goodnight
of softening kisses –
just as the dawn
cracks the night

I count the hours of you
that remain to me,
and tuck them about us –
thin comfort against
the coming light

© Sarah Whiteley

when you go

when you go,
do not let it be
on some maybe
Tuesday afternoon
in December

go slowly, perhaps
over an entire year
of quiet Tuesdays
so that the mountains

do not spring
suddenly between us,
but are a gradual rise
of eventual goodbye

such a gentle shift
will leave no
sharp echo, but will
draw you out softly

from the corners
unknown others may
one day reclaim

when you go then,
not altogether tomorrow,
but one hair at a time

I will not need
to seek out the sounds
or angles of you,

the spying of which
would be false bloom –
like the sand cherries
in January

when a few fragile bits
for one bright morning
strive to forget spring

sits so far away
and hills have
risen up between

© Sarah Whiteley

a small goodbye

did you mark how I watched,
taking stealthy measure
of the space (three paces) between
– flinging distance –
but I, too shy to chance it
make this then a small goodbye
though the soft twistings of your hands,
fingers among fingers,
twisted me unbearably into longing
and I, whose fingers
held the maybe of yours,
could not keep you
and could not let you go

© Sarah Whiteley

beyond far

farewell the flowers
so long the rain
the mossy walks
and airy strains
of the winds
upon the hill
goodbye the haunts
adieu the blue
of long Junes
and deep nights
of the ghosts
of wishes past
I want to run
beyond the reach
of our moon
to fly far
from goodbye
outrace the trace
of no more
left by your fingers
in the salt
of lost shores
farewell the flowers
so long the rain
goodbye my love
I want to run
beyond
far

© Sarah Whiteley