Anatomy Lesson

 Nellie Hill


To understand the heart

you've got to memorize arteries, vessels,

and which goes where, which is red

and which is blue, what's likely to pop open--

is it in your head or behind your wings

or the one down low in the snake path

of food that winds around the tangle

of bladder, liver, spleen. 


Kidneys, too, the root of the whole thing,

the seat of life -- your chi,

that thrust of breath from the small of your back.

Guard it, especially in wind with damp heat rising

and those sudden storms that cool

afternoon sweat from your forehead

before time works its way in

to where thoughts become memories or dreams.


You see?  At last you understand,

anatomy stacked like a ladder from your toes

right up your knees and elbows

and each footstep of a rib

until you're in your head again

with words for every thing, each one.