scarcely there


you are scarcely there –
solid only on those spare
nights when you sleep beside me

by day you fall apart –
like bread in water or
the clods of dry earth
I strike from the roots of weeds

I have come to tell you
there are no new prayers,
that what it is that leaves
us at dawn, leaves us

to tell you that some subtle thing
in our spines has shifted,
and I am unwilling now to
peel myself away from loneliness

neither of us, I think,
is meant to be one-nested,
though were we to be
taken from ourselves,

we would carry still a memory –
homage to our quiet beginnings,
a wind that tugs at the milkweed seeds

© Sarah Whiteley

cigarette before dawn

before dawn, I curl myself
into a single cigarette
and forget for a moment
that I am anything other than
lips, than smoke, than
the act of exhaling

when I write such things,
I am shifting the silences
into a semblance of meaning,
wrapping words around the hours
too late to be called night,
too early yet to be morning

and I am grateful for
the hard end of the bench
I press my back against
while I wait for something –
anything – to progress
beyond the gray plumes
that loop the air before me

© Sarah Whiteley