a night walk in new snow

on some nights, like this one –
out in the snow near to midnight –
the size of living can be altered

for a short time, I can be small –
a warm-furred mouse trailing punctuation
across the unmarked drifts

© Sarah Whiteley

I took the most enchanting walk through the falling snow late last night. The streets were quiet and not a car moving in sight. Every tree was wrapped in white, and the night felt huge and soft. Sometimes it’s nice to find these reminders that I don’t need to leave the confines of the city to find peace and contentment in nature.

My newest chapbook Wandering Wonderful is now available for pre-order from Finishing Line Press.

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the goodbye-ness of autumn

the goodbye-ness of autumn –
that long departure
of soft greens
into drifting golds –
flits sneakily
into the tips of trees
with its quiet reddening
before the freeze

earlier purpling skies
bring the sudden cacophonies
of starling troops
which garrison
in the horse chestnut,
starry and black
in the branches
of a yellow sun

morning walks
become gentler
meditations on dodging
fat spiders hanging
in their webs
which drape the air
between power pole
and pine

and among you walk
a gentle few who pause
with palms against
the bark

to discover if
they might sense
the exact solemn moment
the sap stills

© 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.

early autumn walk

now the jasmine’s done,
the Russian sage stands
taller, though leggy
in the September sun
and I begin to look
for purple bursts of
asters on my walks

here and there,
the anemones still bloom,
though half-droop as if
weary of the effort
to shine beside their
hardier counterparts

soon the crows will
gather in the beech tree
in raucous reunion –
a return to their winter
roost-mates and safety
in dark numbers

and I find comfort
in the crunch of leaves
the fires dripped
by trees for me to
ponder through, always
the words blooming
and roosting raucously
in my wandering head

© Sarah Whiteley

The first (and the absolute worst) of the work deadlines is past and I’ve somehow again managed to muddle through it. Tired, ruffled, feeling very behind on writing and reading, but alive all the same – and that is enough for now to be thankful for. Looking forward to a weekend of relaxing and catching up on the dusting before things pick up for the second work deadline. And I’ve got LOTS of reading to catch up on!

channeling the crazy crow woman

how must I look – this graying
Botticelli who walks with crows
in a constant spray of black cawings,
a dark-feathered wind I would not dispel

one is for Sorrow, two is for Mirth,
and the bursting laughter of those first
brought the flock that now follows glossily,
seeking tidbits from one who says “well hello”

but oh, how the superstitious must
inwardly flinch (irrational reflex!)
and it’s funny to me how a feather can
so clearly draw a divide between them and me

pshaw! and caw! to all of you fragile-minded
things – flightier even than crows –
they are a gift the same as my mad curls and I
will revel in them both for as long as life allows

© Sarah Whiteley

My mom insists that I ought to write and illustrate a children’s book about the crows that have adopted me. Truth be told, I’d already had a few half-formed thoughts about that before she mentioned it. Trouble is I’m an impatient sort of artist – I want to feel the immense satisfaction of completion before I’ve put the proper amount of effort into it I think. The result of course is sloppy art. Ha! One of these days I’ll put down a few sketches and see if I can muster the enthusiasm for such a project.

In the meantime, I do sometimes wonder what sorts of thoughts are going through the minds of the people who have given me odd (or yes, even shocked) looks when walking by the entourage that is me, two dogs, and anywhere from 2-12 crows (depending on time of year).

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