hiking near the Pacific Crest Trail

thirty-two water crossings
and just shy of ten miles

later, I might discover
a jealousy of this stone

but for now I am here and
its perspective is mine –

yes, it is possible to be
both cold and cradled

for exhilaration to rise
from old bones and leaf mold

I am more I, more in
while I am without

it is life that kisses me
through creek-wet feet

© Sarah Whiteley

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sleeping bears

sometimes, between the long span
of months in which I do not
think of you at all,
I briefly consider calling you up
to ask you along for a hike

for a moment, not thinking how
having you there would so alter
the trail, that what lies before
would amount to steadfast avoidance
of what should be left behind

sometimes I consider calling you,
but let’s leave it there –
leave it as we would a sleeping bear
without the thaw of spring to shake
the old frosts from her fur

© Sarah Whiteley

placid with the mountains

I cannot be the abstract
the city asks of me

I cannot maintain the grind
of teeth, of grime –

the hot seconds stuffed
into dull hours

when I do not go out,
the ghost of going out

rises within and whispers
of how the November woods

still smell of autumn –
of how the sleeping lake waits,

placid with the mountains
etched upon her face

© Sarah Whiteley

I go out

I go out, and come back –
to the low voices of everyday
concrete saying stay,
voices that are each time fainter

I go out, and come back –
in sun, in mist, in rain –
and each time the tether
is less, and closer to temporary

each time the river’s shout
grows louder and I am more
cedar and stone, more
singing creek and warbler

I go out, and I am more
simply by being less

© Sarah Whiteley

that the mountain is

I am not much at peace these days

nothing sleeps, not even
the stone of the mountain,

though I find I can slow my heart
the nearer I am to its sky-graced peak

to be alone here is to be still
from the rigors of survival

and for a while, it is enough
that I am I, that the mountain is,

and that we can be awake
in this place together

© Sarah Whiteley

Today I hiked 6 miles through the woods to find some small, momentary peace. The snow (and at times sleet) made it all the more peaceful and I spent several minutes just breathing it all in above the valley. It was just me, the birds, all the forms that water takes, and one lone coyote who left his tracks across the trail. It could not have been more perfect.