that absence hangs around,
a lone note held –
b-flat drifting long after
the tables have emptied
a blind man would have known
to find a way away from you
but fire makes us stupid
and before this space was vacant
it. was. on. fire.
things are so much clearer
when seen in d minor –
it’s a particular diminished
shade of the blues
but the show’s over even if
the smoke still lingers
and there’s no flyer even
to remember it by
but darlin’, there’s no
forgetting that heat
I was the kid who was forever bringing home strays or baby birds. Some I’d thrust upon neighbors (apparently I was hard to resist), some would hang around, and some unfortunately wouldn’t make it. I stopped doing this when I hit about 12 years old. But then in high school, my friend called me with 4 baby rabbits. From what I understand, her mother’s boyfriend had set traps and the mother rabbit had been caught in one. And now here were her orphaned babies who were clearly too young to fend for themselves.
I took on the care of Hoover (named for the vacuum cleaner, not the president). He was small enough that he required warmed kitten formula from a medicine dropper every few hours. I remember cradling him in my palm with his oversized feet sticking up, feeding him until his belly was round and his eyes drooped. It was the last few weeks of school and I carted him around everywhere in a little shoebox and when feeding time came, the teachers let me use the microwave in the teacher’s lounge to warm his formula.
Eventually he got big enough to start eating leafy things on his own. I’d take him out into the backyard and let him wander beneath the safety of a laundry basket. There was a nice little patch of clover near the garage where I’d set us up for an hour or two every day. A couple of times, the laundry basket was removed but he always hung around and let me take him back inside. Until one day he decided he knew where he belonged and darted into the neighbor’s garden.
I didn’t try to go after him. I knew it was time to let him be what he was meant to be. We saw him quite often over the summer, munching away in the gardens – clearly thriving.
I thought a lot about Hoover while I was painting this. Lately I’ve been feeling a bit like a stray myself. But then I think that sometimes all we need is for someone to show us the clover. And that will happen when we’re ready to come out from under the laundry basket.
I’ve been pushing around paint for the past couple of days. If that sounds semi-aggressive to you, you’d be right. I’ve pulled out the cheap brushes and the cheap studio canvas and I’ve been just relishing the chaos. “Inner Chaos, meet Outer Chaos. I’m sure you’ll get along just fine.”
Most people looking at what I was doing right now would probably say “but Sarah, that’s just a big blue mess.” And I’d say “yes, that’s exactly what that is.” But it’s a satisfying mess. And better out than in.
“Happiness, not in another place but this place…not for another hour, but this hour.” –Walt Whitman
bare feet on the damp boards of the rain-soaked porch
I try counting how many cigarettes are left
not in the packs between us, leaning on the rail
but in moments left to us in this sacred space
where we learned the measure of our lips
and the direct relation of hands to laughter
no use pouring coffee before it’s been made
this now for now, with you will more than do
© Sarah Whiteley
the chill spills
the skies sigh
in green dreams
© Sarah Whiteley
This is the first in a series I’m working on that pairs short poems with paintings. The series is called Winter Moods and you can see the companion painting to this piece over at tied to sky.