certainty of spring

a slow chain of greening begins beneath –
unseen, sneaking through damp earths

a stealthy pushing aside of rocks
and winter for worm-paths and pale roots
sending tentative inquiries further afield

spring seeks surfaces in the same way
the yellow-beaked robins break the dirt –
in the same manner leaf-buds seek an April sun –

an abiding search for choicer feasts
and a respite from waiting, bare-branched,
until we can say with certainty spring has begun

© Sarah Whiteley

I hope you’ll forgive my absence lately – I’m smack dab in the middle of the spring tax deadlines and it doesn’t leave much space for reading or writing or cloud gathering. Of course the head cold isn’t helping any of that either.

But be well, and I’ll catch up when I can!

Sweet Jenny

oh laddie, why d’ye wander
when the hearthlight’s waitin’ by
and yer Jenny’s at the window
wi’ a bright and hopeful eye

ye’ve a fair and gentle lady
attendin’ to yer care
oh laddie, how ye’ll ken her loss
when yer Jenny isna there

the goats are in the sweet hay
and the geese are in the pen
and Jenny’s waitin’ at the door
’til her laddie’s back again
’til her man comes back again

oh laddie, why d’ye ramble
so far from yer lassie’s side
for ye’ll ne’er find sweeter kisses
nor a more beguilin’ bride

yer feet are set to amblin’
a path ye canna keep
while yer Jenny’s left to pinin’
and wonderin’ where ye sleep

the trees are turned to russet
and the frost lies in the glen
and Jenny’s waitin’ by the door
’til her laddie’s back again
’til her man comes back again

oh Jenny, wait no longer
by window or by door
for yer laddie’s gone to strayin’
and ye’ll ne’er see him more

sweet lassie, tend yer garden
and mind yer baby fair
forget the lad who’s scorned ye
there’s none but sorrow there

the barley’s newly greenin’
and spring lies in the glen
sweet Jenny’s left the dooryard
and she’ll ne’er come back again
she’ll ne’er come back again

© Sarah Whiteley

returning

I have been gone
too long from here
from lulling grasses
rustling keen kisses
at the magnolia’s feet,
white petals bruised
to scent, sharp
and sudden as the flap
of a finch flushed
from beneath the boxwood

the watchful eye
of a sentinel moon
rises low and hangs heavy
between black branches
our absence has grown wide
and horizons have grown hazy
where will I find you again,
if not in crushed petals,
or clinging, freshly unearthed
to thready roots of rue

I bloom nonetheless
though something hesitant
shifts within and grows restless
tired all at once of waiting
for what is yet unreturned

© Sarah Whiteley

bookmarked

dearest, I have not forgotten
where I’ve left off
here, I’ve dog-eared the page
to mark it
and just in case
have laid that small red
feather of an unknown bird
found while reading
beneath our final morning
every now and then
I’ll place my fingertips
along the spine,
ruffle the pages,
glance at our names
scribed just inside,
the pages waiting
for you to catch us up
and find as I have
that between the lines
love does reside
with a grace like rain
and the peace of drowsy trees
whose branches lace
the winter moon

© Sarah Whiteley

asleep in your winter

settled with certainty
into fixed frosts
I and the leaves
have relaxed our claim
on light’s tenuousness
you wandered as do seasons
the periphery of me
occasional bursts of blooming
to thrust the heart of me
into your spring
I would wait
for the brush of you
and the unlikely quickening
of me into brilliance
without cure
this rift of you
divides the moments
while here I pine
asleep with the trees
in your winter

© Sarah Whiteley

the little house in August…

the little house nestles
in the yellow grass
ringed round in whirs of songs
of endless summer insects
sits waiting silent in the soughs
quiet in the sweet airs
as they kiss their August songs
against the eaves
around the trees
and all along the stillness
of the white and wondering sills

the little house nestles
in the yellow grass
soft-rimmed in spires
and clamoring climbs
of creamy frothing roses
watches waiting in the hush
the dervish dances
of the dust-winged moths
in the faint radiance
of tumbling summer stars
around the trembling trellis
above the trees
beside the fence
and down the longing traces
of the brown and empty path

the little house nestles
in the yellow grass
watch-guarded by the pines
enshrined in vines
entwined in laurels greener
than the turning arc of spring
who flings her leaves upon the limbs
sits still and mute among the hills
rests soft beneath the dwindling sky
with thoughts of things like wistful wings
whose feathered fingers
brush the eaves
rush up the waiting steps
to sigh entreaties at a door
closed firm upon it all –

the little house nestles
in the yellow grass
sits closed upon the stillness,
and the singing summer sounds
of thrilling trilling insects,
sits closed to dancing moths,
to watching trees and wandering me
who stands in waiting
belating miles away
from the bending yellow grasses
with a pang that even August
will not mend

© Sarah Whiteley

the flame tree

bide not, beloved,
tarry not long,
for the sweetgrass is calling
and the light is nigh gone

here in the hollow
where first you kissed me
I will wait, my beloved,
beside the flame tree

I will cut me a branch
as red as my heart
and whittle you home
where we’ll ne’er be apart

“oh!” cries the sparrow
“ah!” calls the crow
the hills will not tell me
where my dearest did go

stay not, my lover,
away from my hand,
for the blackbirds are crying
low o’er the land

they winnow and plummet
away from their rest
their song e’er repeating
is the same in my breast

oh, bide not, beloved,
leave me not by,
alone in the hollow
to wait and to sigh

“oh!” cries the sparrow
“ah!” calls the crow
the stars will not tell me
where my dearest did go

the wind’s in the rushes
the moon’s in the pine
the sweetgrass now whispers
you never were mine

consign me not, dearest,
behind the church gates,
but bury me gently
where for you I did wait

there in the hollow
where first you kissed me
I will wait, my beloved,
beside the flame tree

“oh!” cries the sparrow
“ah!” calls the crow
the flame tree will tell you
where your dearest did go

© Sarah Whiteley