Luigi Galvani 1737–1798

married a woman who was perfectly happy
                                                                     to turn half their apartment
into a laboratory
                               including the cadavers necessary to her husband’s
explorations in surgery.
                                      He also wrote articles on the ears of birds and
in Latin, an anatomist, standing motionless
                                                                     in the middle of the road
                                                              thinking
that electricity must activate the blood
                                                             while the muscles, themselves
living Leyden jars, flowered among
                                                        those who found it difficult
to believe that electricity is an animal
                                                            lost in a garden of showering towers
and, as with all living things, a certain degree
                                                                         of the domestic filtered down
between his hands to land
                                           in a dusting of involuntary silver across
the surface of every nerve.

More Poems by Cole Swensen