DISSECTED AND MOUNTED HUMAN CEREBRO-SPINAL
NERVOUS SYSTEM, 1888: HARRIET COLE
Imagine her moving along corridors,
through rooms, taking care to keep things
right, watching as doctors take apart cadavers.
Inside we all have highways. Dare to follow—
here, the instinct to pull back from flame and there,
the hot burn of desire. Imagine her after work,
after rags have been put away, after she
has journeyed home to make supper.
Perhaps she lies down with someone, perhaps
a hand moves along her arm sending signals
to the brain. Perhaps she whispers, “Yes,
yes” and smiles in the darkness.
Inside, along the tissue and muscles are threads,
filaments fine and powerful, impossible
to hold. The strands map a course
from brain to the tips of the toes
clearly marked now, white fiber
pinned to black board.
Jill Gerard lives and writes at the edge of a tidal creek in southeastern North Carolina. She teaches at the University of Mount Olive and co-edits the literary journal, Chautauqua.