Live Encounters Poetry & Writing January 2021
Watched by crows and friend to salamanders, Lisa Creech Bledsoe is a hiker, beekeeper, and writer living in the mountains of Western North Carolina. She is a Pushcart Prize nominee and the author of two full-length books of poetry, Appalachian Ground (2019), and Wolf Laundry (2020). She has new poems out or forthcoming in The Blue Mountain Review, American Writers Review, The Main Street Rag, Sky Island Journal, Star*Line, Pine Mountain Sand & Gravel, and River Heron Review, among others. She can be found online at AppalachianGround.com
The Night Troll
A stone falls in love
It isn’t what I thought,
the way the soft ones live.
The speed and sweep
of the damage they can do
is hard to encompass,
and destruction is something I understand
though rarely turn my strength toward.
Change should happen
over a thousand lives of the moon,
hardly noticeable except to the the knowing moss,
the rootless ones, the tickling galaxies
that march in micrometers
in the smallest imaginable magic boots.
The small wise ones will be here as I diminish,
bearing witness to the migration of oceans,
the rise and erasure of mountain ranges,
the violent coming together
of a planet’s living body
in love and anguish.
Mosses never fall in love.
Sometimes I envy them.
I will wait each life of the moon.
Fair and fleeting
stone calls to bone
where is love
here is love
I will watch and hold
A girl tends the baby
I don’t trust life
Breath comes dear
and night calls for vigilance—
trolls wait until the sun fades
and you are nearly alone
to wrench up their mossy great feet
and stumble toward
the glow of a window.
Be resolute, do not look;
they have come to steal
the thing you treasure most.
You must sing away the threat.
Little ones know
if your spell is a good one,
or means ill beneath the sweet words—
it is well that I am a quick-witted girl
becoming a clever woman.
My voice is unwavering
against the adversary,
my eyes untiring
I will sing until the sun awakes
and the troll is turned to stone.
Sleep deeply little babe
Mind not the shadows
mind not the shade
our nest is strong
against the snow
Sleep deeply little swan
our fire glows
the night will fade
and mother will
come for you soon
The moss philosophers call for drinks
We are ocean home, desert home,
sidewalk, snow or stone home.
For age upon eon, just traveling through.
We are the illuminated ones
who laugh and sing
as the wine flows from bowl to cup.
The wheel-bearers, the slow walkers
the thread forms:
whatever comes finds sanctuary.
Let go your hold, little spores
of what is known—
travel toward mystery
like the wine flies from bowl to cup
and let the earth sustain you.
None are what they have brought to pass;
we are all only miracles
of being and impermanence.
Begin the healing
Mend, heal, gather
Friend, make home
with deepening wonder
with flood and stone
with lack and plenty
pass it round, toast
and drink to life
age and eon, mend home
age and eon, be home
The baby knows a secret
Night by night we are becoming.
Not unraveling, not dissolving, but
until we are solved
and completely unknown
except as we are enmeshed
There is no alone.
we are love
we are love
Healing the Oracle
An ancient journey before lightbreak, hush—
a holy ley in the earth: Here, this place
travels toward light, carries all the voice
and silence of the world (breath, stone, bird) together
and is the meeting point of our birth and grave
here, jaw biting tail in the circle.
A drakeseed rooted beneath the circle
and soon a guardian coiled and stretched in the deepland, in the hush
and heed of all tending and traveling the bright and grave
land. Life scrawled her name in silver lines from the place
where we belonged to her and she to us, together
with monk seal, sea, and cottonwood, having one way and voice.
Everywhere we left our white houses to hear her voice
freely giving hope to be folded like laundry, traced like a circle
over the heart, bent into muscle. Wisdom rose like mist, together
with the incense of cypress in the tiding and hush
of rippling sun on mineral spring, a hallowed place
too soon arrowtorn, its mien gone sunken and grave.
In a hungry fury he sent the guardian to her grave
and all else took for his own: grove, spring, unslaved voice
and oracle. Over the decaying body of the drake, he put a virgin in place
to breathe the toxic wind and call shuddering futures for a circle
of supplicants. And so in the maddened and grieving hush
the voices of past and future fevered together,
offering prophecy which priests shrouded in verse together.
When one young girl was raped, or sick and seizured went to her grave
another was found, washed in the guardian’s gravespring hush
and given seat above the rising pneuma, where the voice
of the future was demanded, and the raveling circle
became a line of pilgrimage to a bent, limping place —
where nonetheless holiness resided. A place
most needful of reverence and admission where together
sea, falcon, and people might heal a wavering circle
with a new-tremored power deeper than the grave,
calling all to the grove of being-with, in songdeep voice:
Let moss and bee and every form of life gather in the hush.
We are learning and failing; our circle comes undone and together.
Life, grave, and struggle all can be given room and voice
for the hush and anthem of life to burgeon in this place.
A tailor found a little bird
mixed up in a nasty situation
and rescued her, once
*rescued* being a curious term
as he kept her stuffed in his pack
to see if she might be useful to him later—
he didn’t know, but felt quite proud
of his command of resources
I don’t know
how long she struggled to breathe
as there was no one to watch
or capture it on video. But
it happened that she provided
a slick bit of misdirection
during which she made her break,
made her call to a trustworthy .org
(this time) and (we tell ourselves)
some kind safety. Well
this tailor wasn’t called brave
for nothing, he was fond of saying—
*brave* being a curious term
in such a situation
because later in his journey
he captured another wild rare creature
and led her away saying, Now I have the little bird.
He tied a rope around her neck and said,
Now I have the little bird.
© Lisa Creech Bledsoe