Trees in winter and sunset

Four Poems by Jocelyn Casey-Whiteman

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When even the soul is exhausted, consider the clouds
     both of this world yet mercifully unbound.

Near dusk, sycamores lace a sky rouge to blue.
     The forest in winter sounds different

than the forest in summer. Underground, snow helps
     assemble moss and purple phlox. I keep amorous

through every darkness, brave inside a cave of pain.
     Nights I feared for my life, I remembered how,

even in the coldest rain, you led me back to the canopy
     and held me until I glimpsed

beyond the seen. I chose not to lose myself in a ravel
     of rattan vines but rather grow here

where roses can gather and relax. I tremble
     with truth. Trees continue.




Yellow birds undisturbed in rainbright trees,
light sifts through to the river where underwater grass
homes bluefish. Stones slow rush.
Underneath, roots share
where there’s difficult reach. A leaf, fallen,
becomes a gondola for ants gliding in muck.
The hum of blooms brilliant with bees.
Resting in their burrows, night animals wrap
in a shawl of shadow or evening halo.
Underground, worms organize earth,
repair where shovels tore. We refuse
to give up on this world like we refuse
to give up on each other.
Near dusk, sense sharpens, spreads.




Half-moons of grit tip my nails;
     my blue dress frayed to silken veins.

I made a nest of the life I was given
     and thought it was enough.

The forest threads a tapestry of sun, wood, green,
     small scurry inside a mood moss log

if you listen.
     Thank you for steering me through

the madness of man’s myth.
     It’s vital to remember what water does to light

and the world as a song that does not end.
     I give my all, after all.

You, even at your most unearthly,
     have never seemed a stranger to me.



Sonnet, Eclipsed

Maybe you forgot yourself
on your way to the beginning.
Bare-throated bellbird beating inside a cage
of ribs, locked by muscle’s memory
of was and wasn’t. Love is not jail
but the mud, twigs, and spit that make the space
for you to live while the moon envelops
the sun for a cold hour. The meadow
slips from sight.          
The fragrance of four-o’clocks unfurls
at noon. Halos and fogbows hard to fathom.
Do not fear the owl light.
Under skin, colors circle and sing
when you’re ready to listen.




Jocelyn Casey-WhitemanJocelyn Casey-Whiteman is author of the chapbook Lure, which received a New York Chapbook Fellowship from the Poetry Society of America. Her poems have appeared in Sixth Finch, Poetry Ireland, West Branch, and elsewhere. She teaches creative writing and yoga in New York City.

Header photo by Alain Audet, courtesy Pixabay. Photo of Jocelyn Casey-Whiteman by Caitlin Casella. is the world’s first online journal of place, publishing a rich mix of literature, artwork, case studies, and more since 1997.