I have been gone
too long from here
from lulling grasses
rustling keen kisses
at the magnolia’s feet,
white petals bruised
to scent, sharp
and sudden as the flap
of a finch flushed
from beneath the boxwood

the watchful eye
of a sentinel moon
rises low and hangs heavy
between black branches
our absence has grown wide
and horizons have grown hazy
where will I find you again,
if not in crushed petals,
or clinging, freshly unearthed
to thready roots of rue

I bloom nonetheless
though something hesitant
shifts within and grows restless
tired all at once of waiting
for what is yet unreturned

© Sarah Whiteley

flower thieves

thirty-nine days of rain that spring
at night we’d poach the roses
pricking our fingers for pale posies
we’d stop to pet the strays
and duck down the alleyways
past the bamboo shadows
and the fountain we could hear
whose waters we never did see
we’d pause and pluck a petal
from the magnolia down the block
and pass it as we walked between us
savoring the scent of something dark
a sweetness undefined
the wisteria dripped blue against the stones
and we’d stop for a moment and breathe
in the sweet damp of green night
together beneath the streetlights
crickets trilling in the thick patches of ivy
trailing tendrils over sidewalks and up walls
we’d plunder the gardens and pillage the trees
thirty-nine days of rain
and all those nights plucking at roses
in spite of the pain
laughing softly and sucking at sore fingers
nine springs later I pull a pink bud
from the rose in the alley
prick my fingers and smile
like it was the last time
we crept like two thieves
through the gardens at night
together beneath the streetlights
between the alleys and the rain

© Sarah Whiteley

I’m happy to say that I’m back. Back in Seattle, back to myself, and back to writing and reading. Walking the neighborhood for the past couple of days has been like one long sigh of relief and all the worries, tension, troubles of the past year are slowly lifting. Such great inner space is created when we can let go and move forward. Just in my case, moving forward meant moving back to the city I love. I can’t wait to catch up on what I’ve been missing – both here and in my city. And what better way to mark my return than with a poem about my neighborhood.