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

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[the poet hikes with unbound hair and finds her peace at last]

I’m certain this will eventually bloom into an actual poem, but for now I’m just letting the line sit with me for a bit. And savoring the joy of Saturday’s hike over creek and stone, through snow-dusted woods.

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.

wildness is a necessity

when, as now, the city leans too close –
all cloying constructs, relentless cement

send to me a comfort of simple pine,
send to me an endurance of wind-bent cedar,

give to me the remoteness of ridgelines
and a full solace of placid tarns

what Muir meant made blazingly clear
with each leaden municipal minute

wildness is a necessity

© Sarah Whiteley