say amen

who gives a damn, anyway?

say amen

and then try to forget
the shape of the hands
you carved your heart to fit

there were just too many
small holes to forgive

the hymn left to sour
the edge of your tongue
was never hallelujah

although we tried
so hard to make it so

but who gives a damn, anyway?

say amen

and then let it go and dance
through the vacancy of places
that should never be absent

quiet the lightning –
there’s no stump left to strike

say amen
not hallelujah
say amen, the end

© Sarah Whiteley

tell me

tell me what happened after you left –
of the intimacies that died
absent of ceremony, without song

the days since have been a procession
of ponderous silences, so close together
it has been impossible to speak between them

the things that should really rather
be shouted into the cavity created,
refined to echoes – but a response at least

tell me what happened after I awoke –
of the parting that halved me
absent of permission, and without bidding

though even had I shouted my atonement
while you still could hear it
no balm would have eased the escapement

the suddenness of it has exacted a void,
negative space for a familiar face,
impassable and contrary to heart’s reason

© Sarah Whiteley


these things cannot yet be called memory –
too fresh, too new, too aware of their own being
to be relegated to the corners of ponderous afternoons

how that spring you sprouted, sudden and furious
in the sanctum of breast, winnowing tendrilled
assurances around and about these willing ribs

until my breath became as entangled in yours
as any two rapturous vines spurred on by the warmth
and wild insistence of an inveterate sun

but like the dark ivy you so often tugged from off
the stolid bricks, you wrenched all our entwinements away,
though still I feel the green sap of you – sticky and stinging

as sharp-scented as if you’d never left


this space
which you have never inhabited
holds you all the same
contains all the silent disquiet
of your absence
and the un-echoing never
of where you do not stand
the unwary word remains
and carries your voice just as if
just as if
I dwell within that shade of you
here where elsewhere is these walls,
these windows, this white room
elsewhere, where you
abidingly reside

© Sarah Whiteley

song of parting

these hands have changed
without the counterpoint
of your palms
these fingers no longer move
with surety on the keys
and the song –
the song is sorrow –
strains for unsung moons
whose orbits never
touched a tide
the notes have slowed
but the refrain is the same
an unheard hymn
time a descant
and distance the low beat
of a life’s bereavement
play it softly
play it slow

© Sarah Whiteley