Singing the Ninety-Nine Names of Allah
My Sufi friend had a list on paper
and the names she sang rolled like summer
canopy in a storm. I see this
above me on the ridge at the altar
of dusk, though it's winter still—the trees sound
like something feeding, like absolution.
What are the ninety-nine names of trees? Great
Spine-of-breath, Carbon-and-sugar, Cradle
Succumbs—which means also Bows-down-before-
axe-and-flame. We flicker beneath these boughs,
a mild then brutal hailstorm swelling
century by century until
we are let go and fall to the poisoned
but still breathing soil, lungs thirsty, withered.
The Sahih al-Bukhari says to count
something means to know it by heart. Do the trees
number us as we pitch, wane and are gone?
I found a chrysalis today and
wondered her ninety-nine names and where,
in turning gut to wing she was, and
if the one hundredth name is glory.
Writ of the Mountain
The land is teaching me languages
which are a thousand thousand gatherings
phrased: wood nettles gathered toward the seep—
coyote invited to oakhollow, not alone.
Not alone is the invitation: Come.
Come blackberry, dust, suncaught woman
Resin oozing, suncaught and dusty.
Waters resurrected and holy, or
buried with wingwhirr and weeping blackberry.
I am clutching and senseless, being saved.
I am being saved without weeping
or my mouth filled with knives.
Simply: wingwhirr and twig bouncing lightly.
My landing is teaching me languages.
Where Blessing Lands
I hear an unsubtle rustling above and feel
Crow's presence settle around me in the chancel
of the broken cherry tree, the buckeye already
beginning to flag the woods with red.
I know better than to spill my guts but
do it anyway, breaking out thoughts like
dry corn milled from the cob and scattered,
eaten. Food/link/story is life even though
we're made of more, you and Crow and I
are made of
no less the black locust whose rapid rise,
thorns, and creamy blossoms are drunk
with bees in May, all right & becoming.
To this the heart bears witness:
Crow claims seed/coin/memory
unbound by constructs like theft/credit/regret
moved only by life and gift,
unhidden against the clouds. And
tonight as birds roost in the almost-stillness
of night, Coyote will hunt, listening
to the tongue of beech/mouse/strange,
also hungry and blessed.
Watched by crows and friend to salamanders, Lisa Creech Bledsoe is a hiker, beekeeper, and writer living in the Appalachian mountains of North Carolina. Nominated for both the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net, she is the author of two books of poetry, Appalachian Ground (2019), and Wolf Laundry (2020). She has new poems out or forthcoming in Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, Chiron Review, Otoliths, and Pine Mountain Sand & Gravel, among others.