A Fine Seat & Other Poetry by Lisa Creech Bledsoe

Online Open Mic – 2021

Bringing us into nature, Lisa Creech Bledsoe weaves poetry with earth and wildlife. My favorite line in this set of her work is: “A poem is part coyote, part road de-icer, garbage scow and threads of mold. It is motor oil, bone meal, and the witch hazel blooming in the snow.”

Enjoy her words on this fine February morning!


A Fine Seat

Today at the creek
I saw a moss-covered buckeye
stretched out low over the water
then rising skyward

I thought:

This tree will be a fine seat

better than my blue chair
in the woods
by the stream

So I wandered over and sat
on the moss-covered buckeye
stretched out low over the water
then rising skyward

where I could watch
the crawdads meditate
as I had before

where I could watch
the yellow jewelweed
exchange glances
with the orange-spotted jewelweed
as I had before

having the same wonders,
secrets, and determinations
as I had before

Still I look
for the next place
from which to watch



A poem begins a shape

made

with chalk in the grit that gathers
at the end of a city road
or spelled in forks
on a kitchen floor.

Any pen or pattern will do,
but something sensible,
some durable unity must be

unmade.

Cancel it out with a hard smudge or a boot scuff
or the kind of draught of air
that wolves use to get at little pigs.

There must be passageways.

Now add water, or a splash of your coffee.
Give it your blessing with fir cones,
a handful of thread and broken tiles and
leave it for three days or seven years.

The poem is rather a mess—
loutish and uncivilized now, and
has probably lost its letters

Pine needles have gotten into your poem.

Cigarette ashes, a mayfly wing, moss spores.
Particles of straws and six-pack rings.
Refugee politics and phone calls with terrible news.

And (maybe) some idea of what plants provide a remedy
for a cough, or a tonic for grief.

A poem is part coyote, part road de-icer,
garbage scow and threads of mold.
It is motor oil, bone meal, and
the witch hazel blooming in the snow.

With dissemination and unmaking
the words come hard to their senses
unpuzzling, efflorescing—
sending out streamers.

They are apprenticing to the wood nettles and ozone;
native ghosts are pointing out constellations
in a night sky from a thousand years back.

I hope you’ll forgive yourself if your words
must be regularly unstitched and regrown,
or if no one hears what you said in quite the normal way.

These blessings can give one something of a limp.

The question may be better put a different way.

It’s not so much what a poet does
as what is making and unmaking her.



Memento Mori

1.
Between squalls
I hiked up the mountain to the pine grove
where the wind roared but couldn’t reach
and the woods were yellow and livid with dying.

The story is told of our chipmunk cousins
that one teased great bear for not
being strong enough to
stop the sun from rising—
then narrowly escaped his claw
and now bears three swiped stripes
running head to tail-tip,
memento mori.

Each instant is ordinary;
everything and nothing important.
Perhaps the stories we know
will be still in the burrow
when we venture out, before
the storm falters and evening
drifts in, wet and tattered.

2.
Pushing forward in the murk
and wail we walked until
a tiny striped cousin leapt
across our trail and instantly
the cat surged away, then was
trotting back to me
with the chipmunk curled and
clutched in her jaws.

Life happens in an ordinary instant;
nothing and everything important.

I’ve spoken with the bear,
made treaties with crows and
learned from vultures and weeds.
There is knowledge on the mountain
of a deer shot, stumbling away to die
and a vole carried up by the owl.
Rivers diminish and others arise.
Winter bears down, unrestrained by
the bubbling summer within us.

Interested only in our hike, the cat
dropped her living gift at my feet and slipped
up the trail without looking back.

3.
There is so much you are planning;
so many triumphant histories and
cautionary scars you’ve collected and stored.
Receive blessings wherever you find them—
no one will stop the sun from rising.
Leap headlong, live and live again
while the trees let go their leaves
and the pine grove breathes
and gathers itself to wait for night.


One Persian Silk Tree in Suburbia

I was raised in the delicate shade of Albizia julibrissin,
a displaced seedling cut off from clan, no messages
passed root to fungi to root with sugars as gift
in a bowl of silence. The mimosa
shrank away from my touch. I hung
suspended, between worlds.

A white Italian nobleman gave it his name
first, then got the Persian wrong in the rest.
It would be forty years before I heard
it and recoiled, discomfited
by the corruption of language and graft.
Many troublesome things must be learned.

In a treelife of captive isolation was one girl—
deaf to leaf chant, no kin to horsemen, soaked
with a damp sun—small consolation?
One half-electric girl with no phosphorus
or nitrogen to offer and mostly
only branchweight?


Artist:

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, Pine Mountain Sand & Gravel, and River Heron Review, among others.

Follow: She can be found at https://appalachianground.com/