bury my feet in the heart of it

on Nina Pick, Jonathan Simkins, and Thomas Phalen


They call me to leap, to “bury my feet in the heart of it.” There is a river flowing through these poems: “a syringe full of water” that feeds an infinitely growing oak tree full of molten wings and erupts into meteorites. Overcoming boundaries, readers must shape-shift and transcend the limitations of physical form to keep up. Stanza becomes sermon from the earth’s sacrum to the sky’s crown. I read an instruction manual: 1) awaken the body; 2) quiet the mind; 3) free the soul.

The serrotenous pinecones open in the
heat and drop seeds into the black earth.
Is there something to be ashamed of?
Is there nothing to be ashamed of?
— Nina Pick, Leaving the Lecture on Dance

This is a journey to the heart by way of the four elements: earth, fire, water and air. All three poets give my skin a chiropractic readjustment and a crash-course in quantum physics. What a solid and flexible reminder that we humans are all “swinging doors,” constantly connecting our alchemical energies to each other and to our world. Where is the point of transition from constriction to expansion? When does the lodestone shatter the Metatron to embody the crucible? The answer is now and these poets are howling at the crossroads.

The clock hands spin backwards,
And moths pour in through the air vents.
The way to the river is clear,
And the way to the heart is its compass.
— Jonathan Simkins, This Is The Crucible

We are the sweet, rotten leaves scattered at the feet of the cottonwood tree, the “bits and pieces,” but also the invisible wind that covers everything like St. Brigid’s mantle. Our inner landscape and outer landscape are not separate. We are screaming, “face down in the grass and whatnot”! How many times must we be reminded that “hand-over-hand mysteries” are supposed to be stirred up when we are knee-deep in chaos, panning for gold?

I turn to the moon
Pouring silver through the opened window.
The muslin curtains bloom
And the stars fall down on me.
— Thomas Phalen, Useless Lodestone & Other Poems

Marielle Grenade-Willis is a poet, volunteer, vocalist, and gardener from Virginia. Now living in Colorado, she listens to the ground and watches the sky for inspiration. Her poetry and other musings have been featured in The Lune, The James Dickey Review, Southern Sierran Magazine, and on Public Radio International's “The World." One of her latest poems is forthcoming within the next year in the Colorado Review and she is currently engrossed in a forty day photo-journaling project.