On Bodies: The Transformative Power of Nature by poet Jesse Holth

   Jesse Holth is a freelance writer and editor based in the Pacific Northwest. She writes about health and wellness, science, history, and conservation, and her work has been featured in over a dozen international publications. Her poem " Anatomy in Nature " appears in the Spring 2018 Intima.

Jesse Holth is a freelance writer and editor based in the Pacific Northwest. She writes about health and wellness, science, history, and conservation, and her work has been featured in over a dozen international publications. Her poem "Anatomy in Nature" appears in the Spring 2018 Intima.

There is something very special about the poem “Breast Unit” by Konstantina Georganta, published in the Spring 2014 issue of Intima. This poem examines nature, and the human experience, through the lens of undefined moments. It has an almost scrap-like quality, with pieces embedded and skillfully woven throughout the narrative. In a way, it’s the opposite to my poem “Anatomy in Nature”published in the Spring 2018 issue of Intima. These poems are like two sides of a single coin. While mine works to pull the inside out, finding reflections of the human body, its inner workings and organs, in plants and nature imagery, Georganta’s work pulls the outside in – relating nature to us by anthropomorphizing, humanizing.

“Breast Unit” gives human characteristics to the elements of nature. It speaks of soil that weeps and laughs; of water that becomes a bed, where we “sleep all together under the sea.” Both poems serve to highlight the fundamental interconnectedness between humans and nature, between our selves (including our physical bodies) and the world around us. They are, in a sense, an exploration of (all) the different forms a body can take – and the dualism within us. In Georganta’s poem, the body “fights and is fought back” – it is both ephemeral and concrete, a breath “still alive” but feet “hard on the ground.”

Georganta’s poem is stunning – its duality feels rooted in the fabric of the poem itself. At one point, a black rock becomes a gate – and a stop. Something to walk through, yet something to block – both door and barrier. It also plays with the concept of time, expertly navigating a single moment and the passage of experience simultaneously. The dual nature of time here, as both frozen and moving, still and neverending, reinforces the duality of ourselves and nature – one thing that can be two things (or more) at once. Perhaps most clearly expressed by the poem’s conclusion, reflecting on interconnectedness and the cyclical nature of time, we are one with all things. “Each beginning and each end are one/everything starts and ends/at one and the same moment.”

On a more pragmatic note, there is something to be said for recognizing the impact nature has on our mental and physical health. Spending time outdoors has long been known to benefit human health and well being: there is a certain meditative, rejuvenating quality to connecting with nature. It’s worth thinking about this ability to transform us, to give us a new perspective, to open our hearts to the thread that connects us all – especially in times of division.


Jesse Holth is a freelance writer and editor based in the Pacific Northwest. She writes about health and wellness, science, history, and conservation, and her work has been featured in over a dozen international publications. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Marathon Literary Review, Mantra Review, Barzakh Magazine, Eastern Iowa Review, and others. She is currently working on two full-length collections. Her poem "Anatomy in Nature" appears in the Spring 2018 Intima.