Spring Is Here (and so Is Aimee Nezhukumatathil’s New Book)

23 April 2018:

And if the oleander spins / you still another way—take a turn and follow it.

           —Aimee Nezhukumatathil

Today at last feels like a spring morning in Montana—forty-five degrees, all sun and blue and light, full of robins. It makes me think of another place and time, makes me remember our first apartment in Bozeman: that quiet lilac backyard glowing every summer morning. Here, from this window (not too far from there), I have a spruce tree parking lot, and I have the big swath of western sky where weather forms, opening up a simple view from our first-floor apartment. Strangers walk by without peering in, never stopping, heads down to their day. I watch the town magpies jockey for positions on the power lines. I get up early and write a few lines, pick up something new to read.

Last week I bought Aimee Nezhukumatathil’s latest book, Oceanic—out fresh from Copper Canyon Press. Having stumbled upon Aimee’s Lucky Fish last year, I’ve been waiting for another boost of enthusiasm and inspiration, ready for another journey through the strange octopi-like landscape of her heart.

Somehow, in Oceanic, Aimee turns a poem about a pelican into a poem about love, showing me how far I have to go. To help me get there, she offers me new roads to new places, dirt roads deep into the uncharted. I listen as she leans into the natural world and pulls from it, like a quirkier Mary Oliver, writing about elephants, imagining herself as a whale shark.

With Aimee’s words still sprawled across my desk this morning, I stare again out the window. It almost looks like summer out there—with the winter wonderland of Montana finally behind us. Everything seems to be leaning toward June. Everything seems to be moving and resting (yes, both) like the rhythm of Aimee’s Oceanic, where Aimee’s shadow “and the shadows of sunflowers are the same,” where pelicans skim low across a bridge in Florida, where—to steal one final line from Oceanic—we wake from dreams trying to remember a river we’ve never seen before.

2 thoughts on “Spring Is Here (and so Is Aimee Nezhukumatathil’s New Book)

  1. nice piece. Copper Canyon publishes some great poetry, but I am not familiar with Nezhukumatathil and will have to look up her work. thanks for the suggestion.


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