days like this

days like this it’s best to go home
pour a couple fingers of something stiffer
than the current state of your knees
and think about the things that do make sense
like opening the window and letting in December
for a few brisk moments and turning up that jazz
until the riffs absolve you of the sins of the day
– just for a minute, anyway –
or living off the vicarious high of the dogs’
hello’ing tails grinning with a jubilance I think
god reserved just for the canines of the world
or maybe just saying I love you to the ones
who don’t hear it often enough
a stiff drink and a brisk wind might not fix
what ails our hearts, but it’s a better
remembrance than simply breaking apart
under the fearsome brunt of days like this

© Sarah Whiteley

I felt a river rise within…

I felt a river rise within
perched upon the bridge’s edge
poised upon the moment
and there you stood
while drops of me
slid and dripped
beneath the pre-green
of a sky considering twilight
one breath whole
and the next breath broken
as the chaotic coursings
of wet on your window
you left me on that brink
to plead alone with never
and a rush of rain

© Sarah Whiteley

I have been having trouble sleeping for weeks,… months actually. This isn’t a reflection of my outward life (I don’t believe it is anyway) as I’m relatively content. But I’ve experienced cycles of insomnia before, and they just seem to come and go without any indication of why. This time I’ve started taking a sleep aid (don’t worry – it’s natural) and while it is beginning to work, one of the side effects is vivid dreams. And oh are they vivid! You might be thinking “well that’s pretty cool!” and it would be except for one little thing. The dreams are achingly, unbearably sad. They aren’t nightmares or anything like that – no dinosaurs chasing me around trying to eat me for dinner. But they are disturbing in their own way. A writerly friend (Hi, Martin!) suggested that I maybe begin to write them down. And here I am just a few moments later and this just poured out as if it had been waiting for me to give it words. So in an effort to purge some of these things and hopefully find a more peaceful rest, I’ll be writing some dream-themed pieces here and there for a time. So if the tone seems a little off from my usual style, this is why.

strange companions

I have my sorrows,
but they and I
are turned companionable
as crows who follow
close behind
on quiet days
and I have learned
that a certain
tilt of the head
reveals the purple
upon the black
now it seems
if they were to go
I would sorely
feel their lack

© Sarah Whiteley

I have written on Tied to Sky something about the crows who have “adopted” me and follow me about while I’m walking the dogs. It all began last year when they were juveniles and starved for any bit of food they could find. I apparently became a prized resource for doggy treats, which they love. I find it especially entertaining as Freyja’s (one of my dogs) namesake in Norse mythology is the daughter of Odin, who has two ravens who fly the world over and carry back information to their master. And so I began to joke that Freyja’s father was simply checking up on his daughter.

I’ve taken to calling them Sorrow and Mirth which comes from a proverb about crows, and as there are two of them, it just seems to fit. Sorrow is the bolder of the two, and as a result the more demanding. He will swoop in low, sometimes brushing my head with a wing, and land no more than three feet away, giving three short caws indicating he knows I have something he wants. Mirth hovers around the perimeter, but will still come to within five or six feet. The dogs recognize them and now automatically sit when the crows come cawing. They are no longer juveniles, but have grown into beautiful adults – and while I never envisioned they would become such quirky little companions on so many of my walks (sometimes hopping along behind us for quite a few blocks), I enjoy their company very much.

watching trees

for three days now
I’ve watched the trees
searching for peace
between the leaves
for three days now
two weeping birches
danced with the rain
the fresh-leafed maple
bent beneath the wind
and a cluster of evergreens
ran in dreams with the night
without waking the sparrows
tucked into tufts of green
for three days now
I’ve watched the trees
looking for peace,
for answers, release
and am now persuaded
I am among the smallest
of all living things
for the trees
have never watched me

© Sarah Whiteley