the maps are out

hot coffee, and the maps are out –
the rise out of Box Canyon
an uneven line of red

a map may tally an ascent,
mark the twists in a trail,
lend certain assurances

what it cannot show is emergence
from a stone-heavy world
into the mercy of pines –

into the stalwart grace
of a waiting mountain,
where the rushing creeks sing
and the winds hum along

© Sarah Whiteley

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at 4,665 feet

the rocks smell of rain,
and somehow too
of growing things that cling
to cracks and grooves

I imagine, when breaking
needles of spruce into cider,
this must be the scent
of wild-some joy

© Sarah Whiteley

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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

wild, and hush, and joy

“I walk, all day, across the heaven-verging field.” – Mary Oliver

at times, I have brought you along for company –
you and the pale trillium in that sheltered pleasure
found beneath hemlock and cedar, under second-growth pine

at times, I walked convinced I might hear you clearly
were the cascades not so Spring-ly loud,
or the whiskey jacks such engaging distraction

this morning, you have become the river
and I am grateful for the wetness of January,
for the gleaming mud that slows me down,

and for all these wild and gentle scents unfettered,
here where words like wild, and hush, and joy abound

© Sarah Whiteley

luminosity

lately, I have not been so adept
at creating my own

but have become better at least
in the search for it

in hunting out the straggling streams
ushering along the broken light of winter –

streamfronts and lakesides,
and damp on long-dropped leaves,

and everywhere the subtle, persistent gleam
of cedar beneath the rain –

these have become my candle
against the winter’s dark –

there is peace in found luminosity,
and joy in unveiled light

© 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