This poem is taken from PN Review 75, Volume 17 Number 1, September - October 1990.Vesalius to Mercator: Three Letters
Basel 27 January 1543
I have been wondering how to map out for you
my little world, since as you say, yours cannot
exclude anything. I have opened the clock-case
and seen the mechanism, ticking harmoniously.
I have even - does this surprise you? - observed
the beating human heart. A German watchmaker
cannot construct machinery more rhythmic. Now
within sight of the Alps I study printed sheets
that track my journey through the body's bypaths.
Here is a woodcut of all the tributary nerves
decanting their various passions to the spine,
that still uncharted river of our sensations.
What knowledge pours through these channels
into the great floodplain of spilled memories,
now overflowing rich silt, and at other times
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