Tag Archives: Diana Whitney


by Diana Whitney

Afterwards, she drew a hot bath
with sea salt and jasmine oil, threw in
the flowers he gave her on the road—
snapdragons, milk-white and scarlet,
grown in his wife’s rich garden.
The spring poured out of the side
of the hill, spilled over the stone basin
free for the taking. She pulled over.
Eyes, hands, a glass jar of spring water.
The morning yielded to them again, a tangle
of pain and desire, high pressure system
blown in like sheets pulled off a bed,
washing the air clear, shudder
of the season turning, the gods
taking summer back and back.

What if this coveting was a gift,
not a sorrow? All she could do
was watch the wet blossoms float
glazed in tub water, lay them in an X
across her nipples and belly, how they held
their shape and did not drown. Turn on
the cold faucet and drink
from cupped palms. A mighty thirst,
as if her skin were salted. As if the stems
traced a map to a secret room
built entirely of ferns at dawn.


by Diana Whitney

Voluptuous June unbuttons her petticoat
shakes out her tresses, rains velvet petals
on besotted grass. You stumble and fall

through the open doorway. Cross the threshold
of late afternoon, creamy locust blossoms
like mythic grapes suspended in half-light,

nourished in shadow, the sun and its twin
never separate for long. You slip and fall
through June’s open doorway, her bodice

unlaced, her skirts disheveled, clouds of pollen
wreathing her hair. Your hands are everywhere
the light is. She softens like pasture

under your touch. Three horses wade in a river
of buttercups: two white geldings, one dark mare,
hides slicked down in fragrant rain, munching

stems and golden flowers, cherishing the space
around their bodies, aware of their parallel, ceaseless
appetites, how generous June can satisfy all.

The bred cow slowly tongues the salt-lick, patient,
steady, savoring minerals, her whole body craving
what she lacks: iron, sodium, phosphorous, zinc.

How seamlessly June builds bone and tissue.
She loosens her girdle and peonies open, nebulas
of pollen in ambrosial silks, singles, doubles, pinks

and scarlets, armloads of peonies hallowed by rain.
You slip through the open doorway again
where the stream in the hollow is rushing,

laughing. Water moves over stones and our hands
are the stones and our words are the water
tumbling stones. You murmur

songs in a forgotten tongue, stroke the hidden
star at the center of the apple,
all the old resolutions undone.


by Diana Whitney

Ice tumbles into the glass. I’ll take
my summer shaken, not stirred.
The Pursuit of Happiness rumbled

the harbor at 9 am, a crowd of revelers
reeling astern. Grannie spied through binoculars
from her high white porch, sharp eyes

keeping tabs on the neighbors, the wildlife,
the baby ospreys keening in their nest,
weakly swallowing another mackerel, gathering

strength for late August flight.
I miss the sanctified dawn and the secret glory.
Up here all we do is sleep, lulled

into drowsy contentment at the abundance of sun
and time, ice cream and crab dip.
We’ve already explored the outlying islands

eaten beach plums on Outer Heron,
hunted the rumor of a treasure chest
sunk in the interior, heard the headless ghost

of Damariscove calling for his lost dog.
Beyond the Thread of Life shimmers open ocean
but we don’t have permission, nor enough gas.

Back in the Cove the children shriek
Look, it’s the Happiness! and yes she’s back
in time for cocktails at the club

with Illusion, Surprise, Spellbound and Dido,
Outrageous, Panacea, and Promises.
Oysters on the half-shell with smiles of lemon.

Porch sunset with seagulls, masts clinking.
If I was waiting for a sea-change
it’s not coming this year. Ice tumbles

into the glass. You can take it
or leave it. You usually take it.
Evening comes on blurred at the seams,

the beginnings of mist
wisping over flat ocean. Trick
of the eye, slip of the tongue, I’m longing

for longing for longing again, the beautiful risk
of losing everything.