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

My newest chapbook Wandering Wonderful is now available for pre-order from Finishing Line Press. Pre-orders through March 22nd will have an opportunity to win a canvas print of the cover art. Click for details!

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how could I be lonely?

alone, how could I be lonely?
in January, the mountain sleeps
but also will wake to shake
loose its winter mantle

it is easier out here
to cease to believe in edges,
to deny the demarcations
that offer others comfort

it is easier to acknowledge
strength in this stillness,
and the abundance found
in the affirmation of alone

alone, how could I be lonely?
I walk, I walk, I walk through
messages dropped in the snow
by the watchful, wintry trees

© Sarah Whiteley

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

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