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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thinking of those days behind the wheel, cat stretched across the dash, exemption stretched out along straight, gray highways

trying now not to swallow that hook, though lately it seems the city hates me, shoves me toward her swilled-to-the-gill gutters

back then, there was the bag kept in the back and it didn’t matter that I had to crawl through the driver’s side window to get back behind the wheel

what mattered was the chance to get out of here, wherever “here” happened to be at that moment, and now it feels that “here” is now once more

and I miss that cat more than ever

© Sarah Whiteley

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at Sleepy Eye

days stretched out so long, they toppled
off the end of the weathered dock
into the spring-fed cold at Sleepy Eye

among the shadows between the pilings
swam the uncatchable ghost of a walleye
(suitably fish-tale-sized)
someone years past had called Walter

every summer we saw him jump,
breaking the lake at dusk, just offshore
where the small-flies gathered
in their short-lived, tiny-winged hordes

at the splash “it’s Walter!”
we’d gasp and sit properly awed
while we envisioned the sort of net
that might finally nab him

the “growed-up” me is somewhat relieved
Walter’s remained a fish-ish myth,
dodging all the efforts and lures
of the great northern fisherman

this way, he’s stayed a childhood tale –
of firefly nights among hundred-year pines
and the hollow sound of wooden oars
striking the sides of a kid-captained boat

© Sarah Whiteley

the more brilliant gleam

I imagine sometimes
how it must be between you
and when it comes down to it
I am more than half-certain
that her spark, being
the nearer glow, is far
brighter than any feeble light
that now reaches you
from our own obscured
constellation
though I think perhaps
there are still moments
as when chill winter spurs
the stars to shine
with greater radiance
and for the briefest of beats
your eyes might rise
in sudden remembrance
as the ghost of my lips thieves
the breath from yours,
when you recall how once
the night contained
us both together
and that we were by bounds
the more brilliant gleam

© Sarah Whiteley

a winter life

I have not
dusted them away
those days
like daffodils in December
they lie quietly
below snowy crusts
nestled deep down
in the dormant dark
beneath sparrows’
flittering feet
whose beaks seek out
the forgotten seeds
of some summer
come the day
when I am old
and remembering perhaps
what spring once was
recalling
with a clarity of mind
only long years
can provide
I will brush aside
the snow
sweep away
the layers of leaves
and dried-up weeds
time has piled
upon us
and coax the days
into greening
once more

© Sarah Whiteley

autumn hush

round the hushful green
greener even
for the dying drifts
of leaves’ last hurrah
crows gather and glide
trailing darker days behind
the crisp skim of feet
over tiny yellow moments
the birches tick off
spates of time that fall
with the rusted petals
of the last late roses
brittle with the day’s demise
moon’s crescent smiles
ablaze with her secret
for her stars breathe brighter
when winter’s lull descends

© Sarah Whiteley

…with a nod to Mr. Lew and his smiling moon…

summer

sun warm
summer honey
clings in slow drips
to fingertips
the bees pulse in reels
honeysuckle drunk
and leaves sleepily weave
the golden hours
between cicada beats
seconds slow
and time is measured
by the gentle bend
of sweet green blades
and the dappled dance
of maple shade

© Sarah Whiteley