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 of-egg-and-enlightenment, Flood-swallower, 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 What? Rightness— 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.