Body into Earth is a testament to a time and place, an era that spanned the removal of the Cherokee from the North Georgia Mountains to the beginnings of our modern time of science, technology and skepticism. The poems describe an older world where mankind is in harmony with nature, and the phases of the moon and the alignment of the constellations offer a guiding light along the pathways of rural life of a half century ago.
... a wild onion, Allium tricocum, of eastern North America ... eaten raw or used as a flavoring in cooked foods.
Half breed Indian and mountain man
lead the way down the Bald.
Quickly, they scramble over rock
and winter debris. Quietly,
Near a mile high,
below rock cliffs and ivy thicket,
steep mountains slope to coves
and patches of green
On the mountainside we sit,
break cornbread and boiled egg,
and eat ramps. We talk
about signs as buck gnats swarm
I can taste ramp smell
upon teeth and tongue. God
knows, it takes something strong
to course through the blood
The morrow is Easter, resurrection
day. In visions of Christ's coming,
the mountains seem sanctuary:
hands outstretched hold
Blurb for Body into Earth by John Cantey Knight
Though sectioned by the zodiac's elemental signs, it is the earth's fullness and plowed beginnings that hold John Cantey Knight rapt in this debut collection. Poems wry, precise, and alert explore communities of self and nature, their uneasy covenant and mysteries. "Preoccupied by light, surrounded by the night," he tromps along valley and vista, reminding us that, even amid the creek-fed garden, serpents abound. We are haloed by southern Appalachia's lexicon of mountain habitation and inhabitant, the winter cresses "not like nary another green ... the year's first purifying tonic." Whether our lives are purified by blessing or fallen angels, Knight's vision is expansive enough to gather the tart goodness of both, equally the hunter as the hunted, each finding solace and renewal in his words' flaming thicket.
-Linda Parsons Marion
Now & Then Magazine and author of two collections of poems: Home Fires and Mother Land.