Lisa Creech Bledsoe, Songs that have never been

Starting Over Full of Songs That Have Never Been

“The words coming out don’t care that they are naked.” —Andrea Gibson

I walk on a mountain in open electric body—
my calls are waves remembered by the ridge
a year later with cotyledons, wild ginger
and gentle catechism. My words feel small

and firefly, intermittent hints. But she listens,
humming moon as the deer climb her nightspine
and settle in blue weed-crushed hollows.
This is a love story. It doesn’t end.

She makes songs long as seasons, buried with bone
beneath nations of moss, centuries of crows.
They have rousing weight, they make us lovers
amid spores and blood. I am bathing

again!—in galvanic juice, in bees and little gods—how
can we not be fecund? In this dream I fly, and heal
the graves in my arms. My ghosts are being stitched,
undulating, with nettle and nourished by smoke
and green blades. Beginnings are everywhere here.

The World Exploded Into Love All Around Me

“Even now I feel the power.” —Bob Schneider

I hope to call the broken things toward the needle.
Toward the glue, stories, ginger root, whatever there is
that mends. At hand I presently have mud and snow,
a snail shell, a few magic numbers and a love
like you wouldn’t believe.

There’s a certain taste to healing, I’ve
had it before and just need to find it again.
Meanwhile don’t be alarmed at how many
things I put in my mouth, looking. Smooth
rock cress, for instance, greening still
despite three hard frosts and two snows.

Pine sap, permission, paper I made
from the recycle bin which had the last
of my rosemary in it. Something here
is the song and language of healing.
We’ll find it, though things will be a great
deal messier before the shape resolves.

Today I think it might have the flight
pattern of a barred owl, but sometimes it’s
an ordinary chair by a window or the woman
missing from your photo. A clothespin,
you’d be surprised the places healing lives.
Could be salt or sun or bread, made.

There will come a heat beneath your skin,
a sense of wholeness, terribly bright.
You’ll shade your eyes and walk in.

Water Witch

I once saw a wild owl take a mouse
from the upraised hand of a woman
standing on her back deck in the Florida Everglades

She bought mice from a pet store
and performed this ritual every week or so

I’m sure I heard the story of how the thing began
but what I recall is a brutal stealth,
how the mouse suddenly, silently vanished, and the
the razored arc of the owl’s departure
in a mute and paralyzing heat

The mystery in my brain makes me shake
and cants my horizons at an angle so
I hike with the measured intent of a Buddhist monk
and lean against a sturdy tree before
studying the sky above the boundary oaks

What I wish for is equilibrium—
this doesn’t seem outrageous to me

I’m forever telling myself, and probably
you, too: Be still
—willing us both
to a capacity for nothing,
a precise hush of mind and
to be perfectly honest, body

Yet this tremor ripples down and I am
a mouse shuddering beneath the augury of owl,
the arrhythmic tick of summer rain

What is the incantation for falling into sync?
Are we asking the right question?

My great-uncle smiles and cuts a branch of witch hazel
and pulls water in a matter of minutes —
shivers it right up

Everyone is talking, milling, then —
the water rises singing to him.
The boys dig unhurriedly with shovels
and expectant laughter, reaching toward the gift

I’ve said it again to see if I can understand

Soon, I will tire of looking for stillness
and be instead the lifedrum and rattle,
the little leaps of water dancing underground

Rather than balance I will learn the alchemy
of rising like a blessing, of slipping sidewise
from song to song

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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