Preserve, Finishing Line Press, 2017.
A woman goes on a journey. She moves through time and place. Her attention is acute, always asking of the journey itself, "What border are we crossing?" So it is that Susan Kolodny's Preserve takes the reader not only to the natural habitats of Africa, but on an interior voyage where the mind "slowed, discovers/ its intricate course." In these poems, awareness has an animating grace: whether observing a birthday, a python, or an elephant who "carries/ a branch bouquet of green," Kolodny compels the reader to surrender to "the curiosity that is a form of love."
Noted with such vivid precision, the individuality of each of these animals, and of each of
the human encounters, awakens the deepest attention. Kolodny has turned her imagination to the fundamental work of survival, survival of heart and mind, and of the living world that sustains us. These poems move me to tears.
The naturalist and the poet unite in this collection, inviting the reader to explore Preserve's landscape through an unromanticized yet deeply appreciative lens. In a world sparsely populated by humans but rich in wildlife, we become "mere specks under African skies," drawn to the intricacies of the other, whether an elephant emerging from a grove of trees, a beetle thumping against a screen, or the occasional fellow traveler. Meditating on the relationship between the observer and the observed, this is a precise poetry, one in which we are asked to "always newly see..."