these things cannot yet be called memory –
too fresh, too new, too aware of their own being
to be relegated to the corners of ponderous afternoons

how that spring you sprouted, sudden and furious
in the sanctum of breast, winnowing tendrilled
assurances around and about these willing ribs

until my breath became as entangled in yours
as any two rapturous vines spurred on by the warmth
and wild insistence of an inveterate sun

but like the dark ivy you so often tugged from off
the stolid bricks, you wrenched all our entwinements away,
though still I feel the green sap of you – sticky and stinging

as sharp-scented as if you’d never left

missing is only missing

I’ve placed a bench beneath the trees
at the bottom of the hill

here I can watch all the world
but you walk by

but I’ve got hot coffee and the breeze
talking through the leaves

missing is only missing
when you feel it, just like

rain is only rain
when it’s falling down

and someday is the day when
you’ll come back around

© Sarah Whiteley


I have counted out the days
that do not contain you
have lined them up like pebbles
I might have pulled from the sand
salty still and glinting gray
as stones from the shore do
I imagine they must remember
the rushing kiss of tides
just as I remember how
the brush of you once stirred me
that place where once there was us
has since smoothed over
and the fissure is no longer
rough to the touch or recollection
still I have counted out the days
and will keep them with me
clattering together in deep pockets
and in the corners of drawers
to remind me of those moments
that might otherwise be gone
and I will line them up like pebbles
until I run out of room to keep them
or breath to name them

© Sarah Whiteley

And with that, I am off for a trip to see family in Wisconsin. This will be a treat (really, truly a treat) as it will be the first time we’ve all been in once place together in four years. Busy schedules and distance make it difficult to coordinate schedules, but tomorrow is my mom’s 60th birthday and what better reason to come together than to celebrate one of my favorite people in the world? See you next week!

sweeping up

so many of the places
where we were are gone
as if an unseen hand
were sweeping up
after us after closing
after the late shadows
have pushed the last shreds
of day into quiet evening
even then there were crickets
and smells of coffee shops
and wisteria that dripped its
scent like soft voices
calling after us after we passed
newspapers and shared quips
and lazy meandering walks
counting mosses and lilacs
and cats slinking from porch steps
our last spot – the one
we most called ours –
will be gone within the year
and chairs, tables, cups,
and flowered cloths will be pulled
from our little corner
where none but our comfort breathed
walking by in late afternoon,
the hollow sound of an empty cup
as it hits the table
echoes in blooms within
birthing sudden ripplings
in what so often now lies still
so that the pinch makes me pause
we may not recover,
but we do walk on

© Sarah Whiteley

not unnoticed

you were not unnoticed
though I trod so gently
not a blade was bent
between us
for uncertain ties
I tempered tempests
and stilled the stirring tides
that threatened froth
over still staid rocks
if not for the confines
of adamant time
for you
I would have torn these shores
would have conjured
crazed waves
and cast these stones
into deeper depths
than I dared delve
you were not unnoticed
though I passed through
so quietly
not a sigh was lost
between us

© Sarah Whiteley

what changes
can time have wrought
that would alter
the warm rise
of the breath
beneath these ribs
what years’ erosions
can fade the lines
a heart has drawn
between waiting eyes
and the dawn
no rush of water
no shifting of plates
can recast
the vast fields
of the heart
where forever
lies ever
just there
on the horizon

© Sarah Whiteley


no one expects
to have their life’s clock
ripped from them
by sterilized men
with sterilized smiles
the thin hands mercilessly
pushed forward
and around, around
around, around
how many years are now lost
to that single fingered motion
of dancing the black whiskers
past minutes and seconds to the right,
down, back up, and right again
but oh, so very wrong
it’s wrong that such thin little hands
can dissolve those plans
you so carefully plotted
as sterilized men
with sterilized smiles
leave you in sterilized rooms
to ponder what time
they’ve allotted

© Sarah Whiteley