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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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

mending a friendship

for Charlie

routing earth for ants,
our quarry a queen,
it was as if the air
turned to petals
and buzzings of bees,
each of us sweet
and industrious
in the bright breaks
between rain

earlier, we’d paused
for the low darts
of the swallows
and the unexpectedness
of a dragonfly
the exact color
of a November sea

for now a small quest
and a glad yes
enough to bring us
shoulder to shoulder
in the tentative hope
of certainty and sorry

© Sarah Whiteley

porchlight

it was as if all of every summer’s heat
had sunk into the worn boards of the porch

twenty years ago and I would do more
than simply sit beside you and tell tales

but here and twenty years backwards, I’ll admit
to seeing the lapsed possibility of home in you –

how the porchlight cradles your laughter
and not so much the door I can’t rush out of

without thinking if I’d only known you then
we would have been that much more

even in leaving, you’re all and everything
though everything arrives too late

even my feet, in finding their way away,
feel the impossible promise of you

© Sarah Whiteley

roundabouts nowhere

the question, always the same,
and the answer is that there are
so many blessed nowheres

she says she’ll have to find me
when I finally get that car,
when I finally succumb to go

she knows that I can write about birds
for only so long before I myself fly –
after so many years feeling
stuck and prayerless

the answer isn’t to find me
or to seek anything anywhere –
but if you begin to look for me,
try roundabouts nowhere

© Sarah Whiteley

[nothing with you has been enough]

nothing with you has been enough

at 2 AM, to an audience of bricks,
I can be honest with my heart

and if I sit here long enough,
a prayer might stumble in –

something akin to what
moths find in porch-light –

I have been to-ing and fro-ing
with the consequences

but in the end, it comes to this:
we might love each other,
if only I’d forget to run

© Sarah Whiteley