Nancy Mitchell has written a book of ghosts, of family long and recently gone, of friends, both the actual dead and those lost (as yet) merely to distance and our myriad contemporary distractions. “We like one another,” Mitchell says, “we have emojis.” —This rare yoking of irony and true feeling is shot through the book. The poems too are ghosts, partial and startling, often leaving the reader with a single, primary color feeling, melded to sensory detail. As in the poem, “Ghost Smoke,” where the poet is wakened in the middle of the night by the smell of cigarette smoke. Though not entirely awake, and no one in the house has smoked for years, the poet recognizes the scent—it’s the brand her dead mother favored, “Ginny Skinnies, she called them.” These are the poems of a romantic all grown up, a lover who has broken through successive layers of illusion and now entertains the visitations of romance, in all its forms, as a sober adult. Such romance is no longer limited to the realm of bodily experience, and the book ranges through events of the past and the present with egalitarian ease. After reading thorough these skillful, haunted (and haunting) poems, one realizes the aptness of the title: the book itself is an “Out-of-Body Shop,” where the soul is no longer constrained by time and space, and goes where it must for healing, restitution, and love.
—Jeffrey Skinner, author of Chance Divine
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