Anne Whitehouse – Five Poems

Roses in November

Roses in November
in front of the police station,
white mold on the dead leaves,
and at the summit of the morning sky
the fading profile of the half-moon.

My feet trod lightly
on the way to the park,
and I was silent, thinking
of the same wish I made for years
that never was granted.

No cause but my own,
sadness at hope unfulfilled
turned to regret.

Not caring what art demanded,
my family was upset with me
for my self-absorption,
my love that excluded them —

something in me that struggles
past my own resistance
to the search for that quiet
still, dark pool
where the words well up
necessary and lucid as water.


At the Winter Solstice

The western sky flushed
pink; clouds blew over
like smoke. There was
no wind: the trees stood still,
as if carven. On their branches
glittered tiny lights
like jewels on a skeleton.

Dead leaves rustled at our ankles
as we walked in the park,
holding hands. In the air
was the breath of the river;
the river was the color of the air.

Our hands fell away like leaves.
So easily we came apart.
There was no blood.
Ashes fluttered like insects
from a trashcan fire
started by a homeless man
to keep warm.

We said goodbye and never
saw each other again.


Blessing XX

One of the last sunsets of the year,
red and purple,
          the quiet lawn
uncovered by melting snow,
the trees standing tall.

What I want
for the rest of my life
to go on like this.


Fire Light Prayer
(December 31, 2008)


Blue mist tinging the hills like smoke,
Ridges sloping into the distance

Like a long view of history,
Both ends lost to us.

The enlightened mind
Is a flame that is not consumed.

Paper birch,
You show your true beauty in winter,

As smooth as a sylph
And graceful as a dancer,

Everything else in the woods
Is shadow by comparison.


Winds of people over the earth.

A soft cloudy light
At year’s end.

Glowing ash, candle fire,
Fear in our hearts, hope in our hearts—

Expanding creation, kernel within
That sees with insight faraway


New Year’s Musings


Before life there was
this cold exhale off the snow,
its smell of water-and-air
so ethereal it seems
the essence of breath.


Under her veil, the bride wept
to see the groom borne in
on his groomsmen’s shoulders.
Balanced precariously,
his glasses quivered
on the bridge of his nose.


Do you use time, or do you fill it up?
Does it weigh heavily on you,
or are you always running after it?


As in the movie, All About Eve,
she began as my admirer,
then schemed to take everything away.
It was really about envy.
My error—to underestimate her.


I sat in the concert hall
listening to the Estonian composer’s
strange quintet of viola and cello
accompanying the singer’s
pure, high soprano.

As the eerie sonorities
vibrated and dissipated,
I thought of all the music
being created in the city
at this moment

of time, that fills with sound
like sunlight,

of music, that disappears
without a trace.