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.
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-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.