like home

you speak of grasshoppers,
and fireflies, that sharp scent
of hard and sudden rains –

all the things that do not
set their blessings here,
or rarely do anyway

the impossibility of elsewhere
is no longer a vague notion –
the truth of it rests on my chest –

the spiny, black hull
of a horse chestnut dropped
on a damp and chill morning

© Sarah Whiteley

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fresh as new nothing

high above the canyon, the bumblebee wears its band of orange as it slips into the lips of the lupine

I have clamored up the steep creek, braving the slickness of rocks and roots for this spoon of solitude

up here, I am as anonymous to the wind as fierce-clinging heather – alone with ballads of bees and fresh as new nothing

© Sarah Whiteley

I’m slowly adjusting to my return to “civilization” after an adventure in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. Mostly I am trying to hold onto that feeling of space and freedom for a while longer, but more posts about my experiences are sure to follow in the coming weeks. And for the first time, I journaled my experience with the help of a little weather-proof notebook my brother and his wife brought me on their last visit. Very handy!

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

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

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!

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