roundabouts nowhere

the question, always the same,
and the answer is that there are
so many blessed nowheres

she says she’ll have to find me
when I finally get that car,
when I finally succumb to go

she knows that I can write about birds
for only so long before I myself fly –
after so many years feeling
stuck and prayerless

the answer isn’t to find me
or to seek anything anywhere –
but if you begin to look for me,
try roundabouts nowhere

© Sarah Whiteley

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escape

on days when I cannot be here –
in the sense that my vigor
for living rebels –

I can instead be tucked
among the clutches of brush
on the high plateau

can instead snaps bits
of silvery desert sage,
crush it, inhaling –

we are both of us escaped
and wilder here

© Sarah Whiteley

the traveler, starting young

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I never was in so much trouble
as that time I vanished down the tracks,
losing sight of the afternoon,
small shoes balanced on the ties,
walking into evening between the rails

even at that age I could name goldenrod
and dog rose, Queen Anne’s lace and sumac –
could pick out moths from butterflies –
but had not yet discovered the word
for that unrelenting itch to wander

but mother knew the word and four miles later,
I was spanked all the harder
for the future loss of her daughter
who would disappear along the tracks
to find solace down some dusty road

© Sarah Whiteley

*

thinking of those days behind the wheel, cat stretched across the dash, exemption stretched out along straight, gray highways

trying now not to swallow that hook, though lately it seems the city hates me, shoves me toward her swilled-to-the-gill gutters

back then, there was the bag kept in the back and it didn’t matter that I had to crawl through the driver’s side window to get back behind the wheel

what mattered was the chance to get out of here, wherever “here” happened to be at that moment, and now it feels that “here” is now once more

and I miss that cat more than ever

© Sarah Whiteley

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losing my keys

livingston

keys lie nestled
in my right pocket
where they can remind
fingers that there
are roots to be had

connections that
cannot so easily
be pulled, no matter
the direction taken
by forgetting feet

which ride out strange
asphalts, and long
grasses, stretches
of sky so wide we
all lie swallowed by it

shadows in the valley
call out to the mountain,
where I’ll one day
just let these keys
slip out unnoticed

ah well! someone
will undoubtedly
find them and send
them on their way
back home again

© Sarah Whiteley

I am pulled to wandering…

I am pulled to wandering
as the stars in sky seasons
follow the invisible lines
left deep-grooved by the burning
ice of their prior passings

here is where my sky tilts
disconcertingly tipped toward night
and her star-scarred breast
our sighs mingle in the cold dust
of meteoric contrails
the only evidence of our passage

someday my night will right itself
and I and the stars will return
to our beginnings
sharply bright and shining
with the regret of our wanderings