A Mind’s Walk

Matthew Dickman

I’m sick. I’ve been sick for two days now. I had been hoping to avoid it, have even felt a kind of pride as my friends began to be picked off, one by one: flu, fever, head cold—I stood alone, healthy. But a little over forty-eight hours ago my luck changed and I woke up coughing, my head thick, and my throat sore. I have spent the last couple days and nights hold up in my house watching movies. Looking out the window at the gray sky.

This morning I decided to walk to the corner café for a tea, to breath some air. When I walked outside the air was cold, crisp but also a little damp, I could smell the winter grass and pines but just barely. It was funny, my heart leapt! Nature! The world! Though I had only hid out in my sick bed for two days my body had missed this, the wind, trees, and the ground, had missed nature. I knew I had to go back, get out of the damp, and rest but I wanted the outside to come inside. So before crawling back into bed I pulled out Jeffery Yang’s incredibly edited anthology Birds, Beasts, and Seas: Nature Poems (2011, New Directions Publishing) and took a mind’s walk.

This wonderful book is wholly selected from New Direction’s “long tailed library” and includes a smart and entertaining introduction by Yang as well as the work of over one hundred and forty New Direction poets. That’s enough nature poetry to get you through any flu or cold season. From the ancient Greeks and Romans to dynamic poets writing today (such as Dunya Mikhail, Nathaniel Mackey, and Thalia Field) this little book of big nature is the perfect companion if you are stuck blowing your nose and drinking Thera-Flu. You should visit New Direction’s website or Powell’s Books and have it delivered to your sickbed. Maybe in your fever a whale or bear or ermine will sit near you, place a cold cloth on your forehead, and read the poems out loud.