some bears wake

some bears wake in winter
to snow and stone –
too soon and alone
a dense isolate against the gray

I imagine the great shaking
of sleep from fur –
the unconsidered solitude
the dark, inviolate grace

the huff and shudder
of breath and muscle –
and then the moving forward
into pale emptiness

of necessity, resolute

© Sarah Whiteley

ordinary elsewhere

that Thursday morning,
while ordinary elsewhere,
emerged here with such joy –
so bright and thick,
one could lean upon it

an homage to light,
the bending heads of yarrow
and the exuberant flash
of fireweed rose late
above the grasses with
grace beyond speaking

it is just as well I left
my voice at home

© Sarah Whiteley

akin to grace

I stop in the cold where the elk have rubbed
their considerable selves against the trees –
signatures in russet worn by the river birch

there is a tangible rising when standing beside
evidence of what is wilder than us –
a furtive blessing, a lift akin to grace

I would spend my life on this – on branch,
on root, on hoof prints sliced into the snow

I would stop and stand with my solitude –
with my own snowy indentations –
and be simply crowded with light

© Sarah Whiteley

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poetry in her walk

she has poetry in her walk
not of bright stars
nor of translucent dawn
but of deep earth
from which all things grow
and to which all things go
when they cease to be
this brown-hipped mother
not bowed by man,
not bowed by change
knows when to bend
all the same
carries her inherited wisdom
as her great-greats carried
their songs through
fields afire with the sounds
of cicadas in summer
and bullfrogs in spring
carries it upon broad
momma-can-I-lay-my-head shoulders
with pride in the midst of
other men’s shame
she sways with the words
of the long-remembered hymns
that carried them home
walks with the richness
of ramshackle rhythms
from ramshackle huts
the frayed burlap of lullabies
her momma’s momma’s momma’s
dust-coated throat crooned
at the end of the day
she is not fine
in the way of china
but in the way the scent
of the magnolia rises
and hangs in the garden at dusk
there is poetry in her walk
and in her gait the echoes
of deep continuous earth

© Sarah Whiteley