Nature's Mind

Shelley Reece

Nature's Mind
Finishing Line Press
29 July 2022

Nature’s Mind

Shelley Reece

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In his poem Another Nature Poem, Shelley Reece observes that he has been advised/ not to write nature poems, and then defiantly says, nature’s mind says otherwise. Reece’s new collection, Nature’s Mind, is defiantly and stubbornly committed to the pastoral, and in it nature’s noises, sounds and sweet airs serve as stark reminders of the terrifying world that the poet seeks to avoid. These are beautifully crafted nature poems that promise a certain escape, and in these times, it is hard to begrudge Reece this indulgence, this lyric war against the dark winter of death.-Kwame Dawes, author of Nebraska The natural world’s deep intelligence advises this poet to do what some urge him not to do: write nature poems. Shelley Reece takes nature’s advice, thus giving us this moving suite of poems, one in which Goldfinches from a bamboo forest / pick nyjer thistle seeds, fly back / and perch, gold leaves on black canes. Imbued with rich imagery, Reece’s collection celebrates a calendar year’s transitions, promising us that season will follow season. Recounting the preparations honeybees make to survive winter, the closing poem embodies that promise. The last two lines assure us with their coda: …the hive has nature’s mind / and preserves itself for spring. -Paulann Petersen, Oregon Poet Laureate Emerita A sly poem at the heart of this lovely book begins, Though I have been advised/ not to write nature poems, / nature’s mind says otherwise. Fortunately, Shelley Reece ignores the advice and pays fierce attention to nature’s mind and body. The result isn’t nature poems but poems rich in surprise, humor and insight from careful watching-often through a sun-room window and never far from our old tuxedo cat, dressed always for dinner. It’s not all roses and honeysuckle; there’s nightcrawler sex and drunken bees and crows feeding on roadkill. But in the beloved garden, curated by the beloved gardener, winter stands still before giving way to spring’s tremendous heave. -Don Colburn

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