Reaching the Shore of the Sea of Fertility by Laura Anna Reeve

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 Reaching the Shore of the Sea of Fertility
 Laura Anna Reeve
 Belle Point Press 
 April 2023
 ISBN: 979-8-9858965-8-9
 104 pages
 SC: $15.95
 pre-order here

Laura Anna Reeve’s debut poetry collection, Reaching the Shore of the Sea of Fertility, is both a close study in growth and an exercise in listening. This collection creates a soundscape merging nature, new motherhood, marriage, and one’s internal dialogue. These worlds Reeve creates through sound often echo the sounds surrounding us and comprising our lives, even if we try to ignore them.  Section ten of “The Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale” creates a dynamic between “fighting / with the husband over housework in the daytime /  and we’ve been screaming. In the night, / the baby cries,” capturing the struggling sounds of post-natality and lifestyle adjustment (16). The soundscapes in Reeve’s poems, however, aren’t all chaotic and depressing. Many more of her poems draw us outdoors again and again, with birdsong like the “song sparrow” who  “tunes / a bow-like syrinx” and “the buzzy call of the Carolina wren / like somebody playing the washboard,” describing the heartening sounds of an oncoming spring (28). Reeve’s mastery of the sonic in her poems help create scenes in which readers easily lose themselves.

These seemingly disparate spaces, indoor and outdoor, internal and external, however, give way to liminal environments as the collection moves forward and readers find themselves “On Max Patch, in a Pisgah forest     held / by more lenient strictures, wild    snapdragons / survive each summer mowing    and multiply” (34). Reeve takes us into the liminal spaces other creatures inhabit as well, depicting, for example, how birds love nesting with agricultural twine, but it often entangles them “whose hatchlings / it orphans. Even chicks /  get tangled, limbs becoming deformed” (35-36). The creation of such in-between spaces, the cracks in the concrete, the silences between endless sounds, provide a sort of reprieve, a rest, a lull into silence.

Yet in this silence, there is no complacency. Reeve’s poems refuse to give in to apathy and continually try to make sense of the spaces and world they inhabit. These poems are filled with a passion for curiosity and discovery, constantly seeking out those elements of both place and self that are often ignored. This collection is insightful, provocative, and offers a rawness that reels readers in and doesn’t let them go.

Jessica Cory teaches at Western Carolina University and is a PhD candidate specializing in Native American, African American, and environmental literature at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro. She is the editor of Mountains Piled upon Mountains: Appalachian Nature Writing in the Anthropocene (WVU Press, 2019) and the co-editor (with Laura Wright) of Appalachian Ecocriticism and the Paradox of Place (UGA Press, forthcoming 2023). Her creative and scholarly writings have been published in the North Carolina Literary Review, North Dakota Quarterly, Northern Appalachia Review, and other fine publications. Originally from southeastern Ohio, she currently lives in Sylva, North Carolina.