“A Mathematically Perfect Heart” by Isabelle Thompson

Isabelle Thompson


Leonardo da Vinci took oxen
hearts and poured molten wax into them,
trying to discover how the valves worked,
how the blood entered and exited
the muscle. He made diagrams and wrote
his notes back-to-front in mirror writing—
this might have been because he thought the heart
a secret thing or maybe, being
left-handed, he found it easier
to pull the quill than push against the grain.

From the wax cast of the oxen heart,
he made a mould of gypsum for blowing
thin glass inside. The strange transparent heart
must have caught the light, frozen as it was
in time; mathematically perfect,
an exposed aorta in Italian sun.
But if he had asked it to beat, if
da Vinci had placed it in a body
of his own invention, the body would have
suffocated in immaculate silence.

from Rattle #71, Spring 2021
Tribute to Neurodiversity


Isabelle Thompson: “If I had to say how being neurodiverse has affected my poetry, I would find it hard. Perhaps being someone with a heightened attention to detail and a desire to unpack every moment down to the last dust mote has led me to poetry. But then again—who’s to say what comes from personality (whatever that may be) and what comes from autism? Maybe they’re the same thing. Just like those with no diagnosis, those who have neurodiverse labels exist, behave, create, and write as full human beings. We are different—but perhaps the funny irony of ‘difference’ is that to feel different to others in some way is, to an extent, a part of the human condition. Different and varied in those differences. Differently different. Different and equal.”

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