things I cannot tell you

I cannot tell you, for example,
that I am resting against the ache
of not seeing you rise in the morning
to sip your coffee at the window

or that the prospect of you
is the hidden sun in my throat
that glows, that pulls roots, and yes,
I would joyfully plant myself beside you

and also, I cannot tell you
that you are my favorite kind of ‘yes,’
my affirmation that the mountain
will not fall from beneath me

and that the whole of my skin
sleeps until you are near enough
to wake it – that all of me resides
inside almost, maybe, not quite

© Sarah Whiteley

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the waiting

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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

this is how

this is how things end then –
with dancing, and a ruined heart

unexpected and yet somehow not,
since this is you afterall

this is an emptiness that cannot
redeem itself with waiting

but I’ve grown used to thorns,
have almost forgotten the fireflies,

have known always that the flames
could be turned to strike me

and this is the way it goes-
trusting an incautious other with fire

and praying for something other than ash

© Sarah Whiteley

on a day when light is tired

on a day when light is tired,
and creeps just barely
across the floor to nudge
a perhaps foot in recognition
of shared apathy

do not mistake sadness
for a sort of ingratitude –
I am thankful for the hooks
that wrench up the grief
from beneath the calm

it is a change at least
in latitude, a revision
of a current insufferable state
and an airing out of that
which has stagnated within

let light be tired then,
and just barely there –
let us be dim together
and somnolent at least until
some fresher air may rouse us

© Sarah Whiteley

the reason why

if I needed a reason
to pace the floor,
pass by the door a fifth,
tenth, fourteenth time,
to check the gas,
to raise the windows,
to create just a little more
space for the dark
to slip into

if I needed a reason
to count the passing dogs
with impatient owners
hurrying them home,
to touch again the spines
of books whose pages
have kept their silences
firmly to themselves
and failed to distract me

if I needed a reason
to press my ear
nearer to the air
we shared,
to wait fruitlessly
on footfalls in the hallway
to pass, to pause,
to toe the crack
at the bottom of my door

if I needed a reason
to twist and spin
myself into a thread
thin and taut, fraught
with all the things
we wait to occur
while all our actions
compounded, amount to
a paralyzing passivity

if I needed a reason
to box up all these hours,
to cut these ties
and stop the gainless pacing,
to close my eyes,
and finally close then
the window blinds –
you didn’t stop by to ask it,

and that’s the reason why

© Sarah Whiteley