Lisa Creech Bledsoe

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, Pine Mountain Sand & Gravel, and River Heron Review, among others. You can find her online at AppalachianGround.com

For Anna

i.
Before ever ink found way to shape words
the people danced

making stories
of milk and mud and holy oil,
building coils of time

soothing fatigue
quickening, thickening soil
with root and refrain,
lay and lullaby

The people danced

ii.
To the dryads, rusalki, vila
to the women brimming with unspent fertility
who died before becoming mothers:

It is said we are not your children
that you wear no locket over your heart
with the image of your offspring

but we are kin to the river
raven, oak and stone
just as you are

When we wake in the unabridged hours
and the night is filled with a dry warning hiss
making us choose our steps with dread

We have less substance than an empty room
less freight than reflected starlight

The future is a pamphlet of depletion
written in our hand and lost
amid the pile of papers on the desk

Evidence of our existence is known only
by the sound of our feet on the floorboards

It is our dance.

But it is not all we have left

iii.

We remember every daughter we ever lost
named for saints and blooms and great-grandmothers

All the details of our dreams
for your future, we kept
as well-rubbed charms or
rings made of hair

So much of our life has fallen
into the fractured earth—
certainty sliding from our shoulders
like a silk-lined coat

But we remember you

We have sung a thousand songs to you
over the damaged years, and you have listened

You sing them yourselves now, arranged differently,
scooped up and given tongues and leaps
one shade past the woods where we cannot sleep
one scale separated

and dancing

iv.
To the mavka, lorelei, nereids;
to the women leaping and
filled with unlived abundance
who are still beloved, still cherished:

There is so much now you know
we can’t understand

Guide our bone-bent feet

Move us in the voice of
life still waiting, still fruitful
and waiting to emerge
nothing held back, springing
singing us heat, birth, healing
dancing us bees, eggs, breaking into bloom—
seeds, rice, sparkling coins
falling in a shower

Dance us home

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