“Fresh Rope in the Wild” © Bonnie Matthews Brock
The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp
One scholar opined that the artist signed
his name on the navel of the corpse on the table.
What they call umbra mortis floats over his face.
He was hanged earlier on that same day.
Those are students thronging about the dissection.
And is the teacher with a clamp, holding up a muscle.
Is today’s lesson about the anatomy of the arm
that stole something or killed somebody?
Let’s have closer look at the tableau.
(We don’t have to stay long, we’ll just see how things go.)
We can wonder about the minds of the students,
and about the mind of the teacher also—
for this was a time when so much was unknown.
What we have today they could never imagine.
How come there is only one among seven
who is actually looking at the dissection?
Everyone else is staring off into space or a dream—
some vision of death or repentance perhaps, or vacuity.
Then, perhaps one of them is studying the open book
that is propped up at the dead man’s feet.
At any rate, two looking right at the viewer.
Are they undressing you with their eyes?
Are they wondering what you look like inside,
not only your guts and tendons, but your mind?
Their stares are drawing you into the shadows.
Your shadow is drawing them into your eyes.
Lee Evans lives in Bath, Maine where he and his wife work for the local YMCA.
Bonnie Matthews Brock is a Florida-based photographer, as well a school psychologist. She loves hiking the urban and woodland trails of “anywhere” (and pausing often to shoot photos) with her very patient husband (and often collaborator), Ted. Her images have been featured on the covers of magazines such as Ibbetson Street, Wild Roof Journal, Poesy Magazine, Humana Obscura, and Arkansas Review; as well as on the pages of publications such as Oddball Magazine, Ember Chasm Review, Beyond Words Literary Magazine, Beaver Magazine, and Lateral. Her works are archived at institutions such as Poets House NYC, Brown University, and Harvard University.