Three Poems By Lisa Creech Bledsoe

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.

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