Quiescence, Thomas’ sixth book of poems, is based on themes of life set within the wild outdoors and landscape of Montana, where Thomas resides. A handful of her poetry from this recent work was first published in Whitefish Review, Whirling Rainbows, and Plainsongs. Thomas’ literary work—Quiescence included—affectionately reflects the nuances of her Eastern Cherokee heritage and her mother’s people: the value of life and the love of nature.
Dividing her newest collection into three parts that is principally set to first person point of view, award-winning poet Barbara Thomas directs her attention to the seasons of life. The first section focuses on the playful and carefree aspects of youth. Thomas choreographs unrelated concepts with nature and forms them into lilting freeform verses. Good concept examples include music and life/death (“Elegy in C Minor”), ghosts and nocturnal animals (“Ghosts of the Lake”), and storms and daily tasks (“A Narrow Strip”). Of particular interest is Thomas’ blend of youth and nature in her lush Montanan descriptions of beaches, mountains and hot springs in “Kalispell to Kalaloch.”
Part two reflects a different picture of life. Punctuated with sadness at times, Thomas’ poems capture a combination of growth, refusal/acceptance to aging, the emptiness associated with the loss of life, and some reminiscing. Examples include “Terracotta Revisited” and “Vistas” (growth), “Wizard’s Loft” and “Blackbird Has Spoken” (refusal/acceptance to aging), “Yellow Roses” and “Luster” (the emptiness associated with the loss of life), and “Fluttering Voices” (reminiscing). The third section closes with overall themes of acceptance. Thomas’ poems seem to reflect an older woman observing her surroundings—grandchildren (The Ten Year Old’s Transformation”), heritage (“Marias Pass & Beyond”), and nature (A Great Horned Owl on the Limb”), to name just a few. One poem that stands out is “Young Lives,” which reflects the horrors of war during World War II.
Beautifully written, Quiescence is a wonderful addition to nature and Native American enthusiasts and associated literary collections.
Barbara L. Thomas