Passed Life from a Car

Small stains of insects tear on the windshield. Each death
mimes a dark hole, no more than a pore of my skin,
no less than the empty swallow’s nest beneath a barn’s eves.

Ghosts of lilacs bleed brown seeds beside ragged copses—
ash and fir—damp heat rises from the hollows of narrow
ditches—each cuts the plowed earth from the hard-packed tar.

My tongue bruises in soundless beating, it flays the arc
of my teeth and rigid roof of my mouth, no words outside
my lips, no singing wrens, no humming moths.

The road is a long curtain of silence. A golden weeping
willow nets the ground. Houses lie empty within shrouds of fog.
I pass ponds of coupled geese, one lone one shunned 

distant. Not from choice, the space between here and not here widens
before a slow cloud of gnats silvers the air, before a single starling
rises from a field of pale, sheaved wheat.

Down to the Wood

There are old barns, bits,
pieces off Route 88. 

They have spaces
slim light and faded 

red sides gone down
to gray. Still, they hold 

memory—pine, resin-
filled and tight.

Two crows top
a sentinel fir, appear 

as one finial, black,
classic. They split 

at the beak, as I look back
in passing, like poetic turns 

like hanging, broken
doors on empty barns. 

In parallax they come even,
like old folks balancing 

years, leaning in to fill
empty space 

then worrying
the bits apart.

Photo by Timothy Dykes on Unsplash.

Sheryl L. White

Sheryl L. White is an artist and writer living in Boston. Her writing has been published in Solstice Literary Magazine, The Roanoke Review, Great Lakes Review, The Boston Globe, Split Rock Review, Gravel, Woven Tale Press Journal, Burningword Literary Journal, and The Comstock Review, among others. She is a recipient of a Massachusetts Cultural Council Poetry Finalist Grant and was twice selected for the Mayor of Boston Poetry Program. In 2019, she was a Pushcart nominee and in 2021, a Best of the Net Nominee. Her chapbook, Sky gone, was published by Finishing Line Press in 2020.