Sweet William

yesterday, I carried a sprig of Sweet William
three miles to a favorite poet’s grave
simply because you do not have one

and there, the trees were a free-for-all
of birds – oh, gorgeous, noisome riot!

some other Spring mourner before me had left
a tiny, silver “s” of a snake – something you
(poet, brother) both would have appreciated

each year, I am less clever, more gray –
but only this newspaper clipping of you ages

© Sarah Whiteley

the waiting


the waiting creeps up
from feet, passes hips,
submerges wrists
in slippery uncertainty

naturally, the ear
strains to catch
the subtle shift of air
that marks departure

no one ever sings
through the smoke
of staying –
love and smoke both
only ever go

sometimes you
get so caught up
in the leaving,
all kisses become
eventual goodbyes

another bottle
sits on the table,
waiting for me to
swallow myself again
with pretending,

for your feet
to recede down
the front steps
down other, more
diffident streets

© Sarah Whiteley

peace interrupted

crow 2 IMG_6442

an expostulation of crows
unceremoniously drowned out
by the lawncare quartet –
mower, blower, chipper, and saw

they cling to the high sawara
in hunched recrimination
thinking, I think,
much the same as I

© Sarah Whiteley

Crow update? Well sure!

The crows are still in the midst of molting (or moulting for my UK friends). So they’re looking a bit scraggly at the moment. Added to that, their numbers are increasing as a precursor to the winter roosting so I’m at the time of year when there are no longer just 5 or so following me about, but 15-20. Most walks consist of me, two dogs, and an abundance of bedraggled looking, very vocal crows. This morning I had roughly 10 walking in close formation behind the dogs – it looked like I had my own feathered army. One woman stopped her car, leaned out the window after honking at me, and said “they’re very bold, aren’t they?”

I’m very pleased that I can still pick Coyote out of the bunch and more often than not the two babies from this year’s nesting.

A little farther north, Sorrow is still around and still comes swooping in for treats. He’s always been quiet for a crow and doesn’t demand or cluck or scold like Coyote does. I haven’t seen Mirth for several months now and I have to believe that either he’s gone his own way apart from the flock or he’s simply no more.

I’m enjoying my strange friends while I can. A move is on the horizon for me so I’m afraid my time with Coyote and his brood and with Sorrow is limited. I’ll miss them more than I probably ought to – silly, sentimental me – but will appreciate their raucous company while I still have it.

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.