Magical Nature and Nicola Waldron’s Girl at the Watershed

It’s starting to feel like autumn in Tennessee, which is definitely a rare and welcome treat for this time of year.
I think changes in weather make me notice nature in a way I don’t usually…the colors of the trees, the colors of the sky in evening time. It just seems to point itself out to me in times like this.

That’s why Nicola Waldron’s Girl at the Watershed was a perfect read for me this week.
She’s simply fantastic at creating magical nature imagery that leaves you with this profound sense of wonder and thoughtfulness.

To go through every poem would take forever, simply because truly good poetry is always going to be deeper and fuller and more expressive than can easily be explained.
(A lesson for all of us, huh? If your poem is easily digestible, every image surface-level, all language and illusion understood at the first read-through, it’s time to add complexity.)

So here’s the last four stanzas of the final poem of the book, “Shine:”

“Leave off writing postcards,
seeking what you never dreamed:
it has come around
to winter and loving —
to prosperity — and you
cannotwillnot see the daisies.

You turn
in earnest, three times,
likes a dreaming dog.

Follow my tracks
along primrose —
they are deep and cloven,
and tipped with moon.

home) –”

I could offer some deep and drawn out phrases about these beautiful lines,
but I’ll just say this: they’re magical.

She juxtaposes language in interesting ways, changing words’ parts of speech so they attempt new and intriguing things–“follow my tracks / along primrose.” It’s ethereal, yet simple.

I think her use of punctuation also draws attention to the oddly magical way she’s using language.
She ends the entire book with two dashes, almost as if to say, “it’s not done. These poems continue on. They are more than me.”

She makes nature-imagery have this almost Native American sanctity, this expression that must originate from a close connection with the earth… “deep and cloven, / and tipped with moon.”

My current project is centered on a single summer of my life, so nature imagery is definitely something I am going to personally be working on incorporating in a more consistent and intentional way.

So here’s what I’m taking away for my own writing on this late Sunday evening–

1. Play with language and punctuation. Do interesting things. Experiment.

2. Write about what you are connected to. Nature, faith, relationships… write what you feel connected with because it definitely shows in your writing.

3. End your poems/collections with a hint of surprise, a little cliffhanger to keep your readers thinking.

4. Keep reading work by those who’ve been doing this longer and more intentionally than you.

Friends…write, be inspired, and go outside. 🙂

Abigail Joy