Darkly Devotions

Lyric prose meditations that play with elements from evangelical Christianity, Buddhism, yoga, reiki, Tarot and “weird voodoo shit.”

~by Cindy Clem


Opening Exercise: Cause yourself physical pain. You could pinch yourself, bang your elbow against the corner of the table, or stab yourself with scissors in the thigh. Sit with the pain. Imagine for it a shape, a color, a texture, a taste (don’t actually taste it, weirdo). Ask yourself, “What has caused this pain?”

Part 1:
“Plantar fasciitis (say “PLAN-ter fash-ee-EYE-tus”) is the most common cause of heel pain. If you strain your plantar fascia, it gets weak, swollen, and irritated (inflamed). Then your heel or the bottom of your foot hurts when you stand or walk. Plantar fasciitis is common in middle-aged people.” ~WebMD

Plantar fasciitis, for those of you don’t know, feels like a toothache in your heel, ala Old Dan Tucker, who died of this ailment. Achilles, despite his dip in the Styx, died of heel injury. Some middle-aged people’s heels hurt so badly they have to use a cane.


Source: http://www.medicinetogopharmacy.com/easy-living-tips/proper-walking-cane-use/

Part 2:
“And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.” ~Genesis 3:15

In this verse, God is speaking to the serpent, punishing it for tempting Eve to eat from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Yet it’s a strange curse, one that curses both good and evil, putting them in eternal tension and God outside them both. Which is worse: headache or heel pain? Choose carefully.

Part 3:
I developed plantar fasciitis late last summer. I blamed it on minimalist running, on the books I read that convinced me to change my gait. But it has lasted even after I returned, sheepish, to my normal shoes and posture, after I finally stopped running altogether. What is going on?

“Knees and feet carry the energy of your negative emotions. That is because the vibration of negative emotions is lower, heavier, and more dense, causing these feelings to drop to the lowest points of your body. Inflammation here shows you are nursing hurt feelings.” ~enlightenedfeelings.com

Part 4:
Brothers and Sisters in Christ, I have been bitten. Who has bruised my feelings? What hurt do I nurse? The pain is mace-shaped, Beloveds. It tastes like wet brown leaves. Or like green metal. I can’t decide.

Part 5:
Deer don’t have heels. They have cloven hooves, which look like stilettos. Before the pain, there was a man, a break-up. He would have liked it if I had worn high heels. He also wanted me to eat meat. I once tasted the deer he shot, as a compromise. (It was, admittedly, delicious.)



In the end, he liked a lot of things I didn’t. It’s a sad, sad, sad, sad story. I’ve long since moved on, though. I’m happy. ☺ (that’s me being happy). But apparently it’s taking my heels longer to get the message (“by the time you see the symptoms…you may even no longer have that state of being.”~enlightenedfeelings.com).

This, of course, is if you believe everything you skim for 30 seconds on the internet; that’s another thing he didn’t like: my preference for the non-scientifically-proven.

Closing Exercise:
Whatever pain you suffer, after you have observed it, after you have imagined its shape and taste and texture, after you have hypothesized its cause, ask yourself, “Am I ready to let this go?” If you say yes, your pain will disappear. If it does not disappear, you have two options:
1) Call a doctor.
2) Ask yourself, “What does this pain want to teach me?” and then, “Am I willing to learn its lesson?”


Cindy Clem received her MFA in poetry in 2005 and has been writing non-fiction ever since. Her poems and essays have appeared (magically!) in Mid-American Review, The Normal School, Prairie Schooner, Memoir (and), Superstition Review, The Interrobang, Spittoon, and Michigan Quarterly Review (forthcoming).