Lisa Lee


          No atrial, ventricular
          clamor, but a chest holed of its heart.
In this engraving of anatomist and cadaver, an excess
     of hearts, diagrammed in successive
          dissections, part from part.

          Deft crimps
          of flesh loop this torso
in a cowl. Is it vein or nerve that extends pronged fibers
     along its back? Without the key, strewn markers
          murmur tonelessly.

          The steady tick-tick
          of engraver's tip on copperplate
stipples and hatches shadows. The anatomist gazes—
     heavenward? His own chest, aghast,
          mouths its spongy innards.

          How eerie the empathy
          this pair sounds—impossible
likeness between corpse and anatomist. Diaphragm, liver,
     lung's hung sacs; ribs hewn, fascia
          peeled back. Not empathy

          at all, but art's economy:
          two chests bare their viscera.
Heart, beleaguered metaphor, on this tabula libri
     your chorus has ceased



This poem is a response to the copper engraving by Nicolas Beatrizet, from the drawing attributed to Gasper Becerra, from Anatome corpris humani (Venice, 1607), reproduced in The Physician's Art: Representations of Art and Medicine (Durham, 1999). "Book Plate: The Anatomist" belongs to a body of work that is primarily ekphrastic.