rise up alight


these troubling days
have made it difficult
to flare up –
to keep on rising up

somewhere closer
than you’d think,
someone’s mother
huddles down
into a smooth pew,

clutches sanctuary
(final hope’s
most sacred flower)
against the black-boots
coming for her

coming for her,

for her
I cannot be afraid
of the coming fire
how could I dare other
than to rise up alight
and blazing

© Sarah Whiteley


I. Don’t. Cut. My. Hair.

-well, except for maybe
a little trim now and then,
but not so’s you’d notice-

It’s been two decades
since I s(h)aved it all
and (s)hoved it all
in that /hateful/ boy’s face
two days before the prom
and (it along with) my sharp-
boned shoulders (s)ticking above
that dress /bluest blue for
truest true/ made me look like
love’s refugee escaped
to the other side of the fence.

Mother took the picture anyway.

After a year of getting
my fuzz petted and patted
(feels better than you’d guess-
it’s how I learned I purred)
I donned again my Samson’s face
-now with breasts, but minus the dress-
and I. Don’t. Cut. My. Hair.

© Sarah Whiteley

Props to my mother, who really did take that picture anyway. It’s a wonder she didn’t drink.