Study in Transhumance

Study in Transhumance
Phillip Foss

Transhumance: “The action or practice of moving livestock from one grazing ground to another in a seasonal cycle, typically to lowlands in winter and highlands in summer.” In Study in Transhumance, Phillip Foss trains his nomadic eye and ear on the interdependence of all things—rocks, birds, stars, rivers, women, men, trees, insects—as they migrate with and as each other in the entwined cycle of existence:


the trees of the orchard are people strangers

they cannot stoop to reach the water a seasonal


transformation where there is no vacuity on which to paint

singing birds or where rain is a gray animal smothering


aphasia’s song head-beating against basalt

or metaphysics yet you feel the leaves outside shaking your hands


The strategic absence of punctuation in Foss’s poems blurs the cultural, linguistic boundaries between what are normally seen as discrete objects, unveiling a synesthetic, syncretic wordscape in which an “earthen house on billion year old continent floats / west toward the pacific sans / sail sans compass no pilot.” Study in Transhumance—Foss’s fifth book with Singing Horse Press—is a harrowing yet heartening book for those willing to breathe its rarified air.