We have yet to explain, however, in what manner the blood finds its way back to the heart from the extremities by the veins, and how and in what way these are the only vessels that convey the blood from the external to the central parts.
– William Harvey (1578–1657). On the Motion of the Heart and Blood in Animals. The Harvard Classics. 1909–14.
Her slender arm is clasped in his hand.
One finger softly brushes translucent skin,
feeling her fluttering pulse quicken.
Tracing fragile veins, from elbow to wrist.
Part of him longs to take a scalpel,
and part her skin, like stage curtains.
Hungering to explore her circulation;
to reveal the intricacies of her anatomy.
She shudders. Picturing again the animals,
still breathing, splayed in his study.
The mewling cries, the scalpel’s glint;
his notebooks full of precise sketches.
An intense stare and narrowed eyes,
her husband, pathologically curious.
Enslaved to the pursuit of Knowledge,
that most insatiable mistress.
Despite herself, she craves these moments.
The unexpected thrill of his gentle touch,
the novelty of his breath on her neck,
and the subtle warmth of his skin on hers.
Too soon, he will return to his research.
Immersed again, in miniature anatomical worlds.
And with heavy heart she will wait, hopeful,
that one day he will find his way home.
De Motu Cordis (On the Motion of the Heart) by Heather Combe was commended in the Sentinel Annual Poetry Competition 2015 judged by Afam Akeh.