Tag: wandering

after Livingston

that August in Livingston,
we meant just me
and the small dog tracing
the bends in the river
into the far edge of afternoon

one of us thinking of rolling
ourselves into the landscape
for keeps just for the peace,
the other enthralled
by sudden bursts of magpies

all these years after,
I never did find the right shade
to fade into and can’t shake
the sense of going the wrong
way against the river now

as if home had quietly
washed itself downstream
and settled on a sandbar –
lopsided and forsaken

© Sarah Whiteley

down east

it was late November
when I drove toward Maine

I still hear how the wind
tore across the highway,
rattling doors and nearly
blowing that tired red Buick
into the frozen ditch

I had second, third – hell
sixth thoughts on the other
side of the state line,
but I kept right on –

forward was the only
way left even though
the pines all pointed
back the other direction

a body ought to listen
to things like weather
and the wind and when
either one isn’t at your back,

it might be that’s a sign
you should turn right around
and that just maybe somewhere
down around western Mass

a right instead of that left
might not have inflicted the kinds
of change that would alter the slant
of a year’s share of wakeful nights

but winter’s nothing way up there
if not a lesson, and my toes
nearly froze during that storm
when I tried to find my way

five miles on foot up that hill
to somewhere never home
through fourteen inches of snow
in flimsy shoes with branches
dropping shrapnel all around –

a few other things nearly
froze over, trust included,
and it’s a wonder I thawed
out at all and can carry on

as if it was nothing more
than a freak nor’easter moving
through or a turn in the wrong
direction against the wind’s advice
two hundred or so miles back

down east was the only place
I’ve ever had to lie to live
or pick a lock to save my own skin
five degrees below zero –

twenty minutes spent just chipping
at that ice to use a bent hanger –
something I used to think only
worked in the movies but prayed
to God it could be otherwise

in the end hope won out
and I fled west with a new
appreciation for thick soles
and the warnings pine trees
and a good strong wind
might heap at a vagrant’s feet

but these are the things
I don’t speak of

and thank-the-lord don’t often
think of, save now and again
when a freezing wind
rattles at my windows –

some frenzied remnant
fighting to be let back in
and sometimes –
the old familiar ice still
finds a way beneath the sill

© Sarah Whiteley

Know this is outside of my norm, but have been wanting to clean the cobwebs out of this particular closet for a while now. Wrote this years ago and never posted it as it never felt “right” – but have reached the moment when I’ll tweak and peck it at no more. And in return, it will tweak and peck at ME no more!

I might sleep better…

if I could unravel the day
at the end of it,
let it hang out the window
and weave itself into the wind

let the crows take what they may
and drag the bits away –
to line nests and tumble down
the sidewalk at dusk,

a curious thread of red
for wandering-hearted walkers
and transient orange cats
to watch and wonder at

© Sarah Whiteley

Check back later this week for a giveaway! I’ll be posting details on how to enter for a chance to win a signed copy of my little poetry chapbook, No Direction But Home.

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

a song of home

song in silvery descent
beats in sweet repeats
the tug of lodestones,
the clamant lure
of westward-leading
winding winds,
I sing the binding beck
of springing grove
and blooming troves of heather,
let the tune renew
the sweet enchantments
the road has written
upon my straying shade,
in engaging turns,
in immeasurable measure,
render the notes that lead
back beyond between
to that garden without walls
and the elemental charm
of the wanderer wending home

© Sarah Whiteley