By: Lisa Creech Bledsoe
The Way Poets Go On About Birds (My Secret Poem Name is Swan)
True, we do go on, having had our organic yogurt
with bran on the porch as the sun rises. Jesus
how could we not, after so much fiber and protein?
I did a bird poem you’d kill for, with a robin—
you’re gonna LOVE this—in spring. He was imperious
I think. Implacable? Some i-word, a good one too.
Paul Simon said it would be fucking spiritual
and you know, I believe he’s right. I feel it
in my bones. In my MOON bones.
The moons I’ve poemed! Illustrated with
stock photos if I can’t find creative commons
but I can, by the bucketload. Lots of options.
I’m fond also of stereotypes. Smartypants mynahs, wise old
owls, and sometimes fragile, always lovely swans.
Makes me feel every little thing is gonna be all right.
I Watched a Romcom, Then Dreamt of Heaven
Neoclassical? Greek Revival? I will have to look it up, but it’s
one of those old Southern confections, double row of oaks,
Spanish moss, columns. Just one of many entry points. This one
happens to conform to romcom standards. I’m quite certain
it was in terrible repair when the young woman unwillingly
returned to her small hometown, but she and the guy shined
it right up after overcoming the things about each other
they initially hated. Just inside however
is the first hint that things aren’t what they seem.
Less a foyer and more a grand ballroom. It had
two stories on the outside, but in here it reaches up
eighteen or forty, with wrap-around galleries stretching
into the mist. The house requires staging area, and here
(speaking of stages) comes the showman. Everyone looks up
and several floors above in a spill of sun he steps
onto the wire. It’s stretched gallery to gallery over our heads
and by the sudden intake of breath he knows the newcomers
are thrilled and suddenly more anxious, even, than they were
on arrival. He’ll address that momentarily, but for now
he walks, slowly. Pretends to falter, grins down. We are
transfixed. But feeling better—we know this pattern, this gift.
We are not abandoned. We are coming home, perhaps.
Later we’ll know the trick of it, we’ll see him in grubby sweats
walking his German shepherd along the high wire. The dog will
(predictably) get loose up there and gallop free, scattering birds.
Everyone will look up and smile.
The showman’s bit is (often) interrupted by the arrival commotion
of the woman in the wheelchair and her entourage. The front stairs
are irrelevant, she’s here now and requires a fuss. Imperious
and demanding at first, she catches my eye and grins and I feel—
I know this story. Later she may amble freely if she has
forgotten not to. Which is the key in my hand, the key.
It’s so easy to forget and linger. And guess what? You’re
allowed. You’re included, unlinked. Part of the ensemble
should you choose. Wishful thinking is the rule, and calendars
are too soft to hold in your hands, with a tendency toward
melting. But meeting moments are frequent and pleasurable
and it’s easy to fall in love, in love, in more love.
You won’t have your shit together but you won’t need luck,
just comic relief and a good soundtrack. Find your sidekick,
your best friends. They will share what you need to know,
grin and wink. Stick around and learn the secrets. For instance
the showman and the woman in the wheelchair? They’re
a couple. This town loves them. And absolutely everyone
knows how to run a wildly successful bakery, bookshop,
B-and-B spa cafe garden center wedding catering business.
They often don’t, because they can do better magic
than that. So revel in every turning point (even breakups,
which are also melty and thus temporary, time-porary). Love
lasts here, joy lasts. But time struggles so there’s
really no need to give it a second thought right this
second, or even later (which is already evaporating
in this fierce light). Be swept away by love, coming home.
You’ll know me by my wink and grin.
Origami Instructions for Folding a Bee
Day rises arching
having spent the night
of rainbows on concrete
a high frequency
and shoals of x-ray fish
with their semaphore fins, all
needle-stung ley lines
now devoted to
the reign of light,
to barred bellies
smeared with pollen.
On the verge
in the husk of what
can no longer be restored
the shadow of a cloud
of bees might still
quiet, might still
layer itself like dust
over cinquefoil and hop clover
bright as lemons, once
flying into us.
What folds beneath our hands
houses of washi
in rust and ash
may also rise, the air green
again, and light
renew herself with a mist
of queens ascending.
Through the Gap
Pressing through the gap
on the road tonight I watch heat lightning flicker;
the storm sharpens its edge against the mountains.
I cannot hear thunder but someone does
on the other side of these humped black ridges.
It’s hard not to feel the world groan,
and turn heavily in her trouble
while generations of living and dying
glint against the grinding stone
when the moon catches the blade’s edge.
The way narrows and rises,
climbing past dirt-licked barns leaning in fields
and the ragged shapes of dying sunflowers
hunched but still standing.
The river is hoarse and mumbles for rain.
I turn onto our gravel road
through deep woods rising on either side,
clotted at the edges with snags of
vines and hungry weeds reaching in.
Before me generations walked home through the gap
with nothing but a lantern pushing back shadow,
light reflected in a thousand watching eyes
and each step raising a small breath of dust.
I want more of me to be rain and morning,
less fear and grief.
Point your shoes east while you sleep—
scratch your poems on rocks.
Put offerings in the offering places
and leave the door of your foreboding unlocked
for the visit of holy surprise.
There will be someone, come spring,
to bring up apples from the cellar.
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, A Gathering of Tribes, Sky Island Journal, Pine Mountain Sand & Gravel, Red Fez, and River Heron Review, among others.