Getting the Feel of the Land | Review of “I see my love more clearly from a distance” by Nora Gould (2012) Brick Books


We have lost something as we became more urbane. Not only have we lost touch with the feel of the soil or the ability to view the horizon, we also have lost the ability to connect with family members or even with the food we consume. Nora Gould has given us an opportunity to regain that understanding of nature as she documents her experiences with living in the prairies in her collection of poetry I see my love more clearly from a distance.

Song of Songs (Page 15)

Prairie knows her own beauty, silver willow, golden-

rod, her slopes thick with prickly pear, hawthorn,

meadow sweet, meadow rue, Orion in her deep

violet-blue haze, the shining arnica of her coulee.


To hold my quiet, in the noise

of oil rigs moving on the road a half mile east,

on the gravel at the end of the lane,

to hold my quiet in silence, desire unable to vibrate


out from me, no pheromones to underscore

the call in my eyes; to hold this quiet,

it has to be filled with the sound of the ’52 Chev

home from the hay field: the goat’s flehming,

upper lip curled.


Winter sun would life my face.

Ribbons of Sandhill Cranes would bind me

here, their necks and legs unfurled

as they gargle in the seasons with their rolling

garooo-a-a-a garoo-a-a-a

Gould does more than explain the scenery she sees around her in this book. She describes in brilliant detail the full range of emotions that come with her life in the prairies. Her experiences with her family and her work come through in such vivid detail that the mind’s eye of the reader comprehends what she is expressing.

But if this poem is to be all happiness and light (Page 30)

There is so much I cannot say. I’d crossed

the Watson Coulee to see if the red brockle-

faced cow had had her calf. Deep in buckbrush

I saw it wet, already knowing mother’s tongue.

I lay in prairie wool to photograph this

glacier-divided hill, its scooped curves

where moon rests early in her rising up that deer path

in the ice-age draw. I climbed that trail, circled

down to the hollow on the slope where

a rock’s animal face is aligned south for winter sun,

not chiselled, no mark of stone on stone.

Where grasses eddy by that rock, see the poem

on my notebook pages blown by the wind,

held by binding. Read of rock-warmed night,

morning: flooded, sun-licked as the deep

violet-blue of silverleaf psoralea.

This is a read that is in-depth and deep. One can feel the crafting Gould went through to bring this phrases to light. It wasn’t an easy task to bring this work to light and the effort is rewarded by enlightening us urban dwellers with both the pleasure and pains she documents here.

As if that absolved him, made him not complicit (excerpt) (Page 41)

When I called home from the airport Charl knew

but didn’t tell me my father had died, said later

your sister told me not to.

By the time my flight was in, the funeral

was set, no time for my children to attend.

No question of Charl having time,

he’s a busy man. I drove without him


to both my surgeries. First one

ovary, big as saucer. Blood

and fibrin bound it to my uterus, glued

ureters, bladder and loops of bowel

together. People don’t speak


of this blood, where it grows, what

it strangles. My left ovary

tied to my side, a hardball,

a shiny nickel in my pocket.

I see my love more clearly from a distance by Nora Gould is an enlightening collection of poetry of what we urbanites have forgotten about nature and ourselves. There are some deep and well-thought phrases here that make it a pleasure to read.

Link to Brick Books page for I see my love more clearly from a distance

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