Groove for the Middle Meningeal Artery

Pulling back the layers to reveal
the flow of blood in bone has left a seam
Pristine enough and perfect as to steal
the breath away, the fossil of a stream

the course of which had nestled in its trail
A current of a life that once had stretched
At once exquisite strength and power frail
the shadow of a constant flow lies etched

Throne of wisdom, casing of the mind
about the rush of passion to protect
Life’s pulse and armor growing intertwined
A groove to show how wholly they connect

An alabaster leaf with branching vein
a beauty so intense, akin to pain

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Baila Elkin is a first-year internal-medicine resident at the Cleveland Clinic.

About the Poem

“This poem explores one of the seminal experiences of medical school: anatomy lab. Here, I reflect on skull dissection, on seeing the groove for the middle meningeal artery—and, more broadly, on the beauty and wonder of anatomy.”


8 thoughts on “Groove for the Middle Meningeal Artery”

  1. Ronna Edelstein

    You are a physician with the soul of a poet. As a retired teacher of literature and writing, I profoundly admire your use of language. Thank you for sharing your poem with Pulse—and thank you, Pulse, for publishing it.

  2. Gorgeous poem, especially appreciated because I’ve had three craniotomies. A moving experience for me to see the beauty of the brain from the other end of the scalpel. Many thanks.

  3. I’ve read some fine writing in PULSE and had one of my poems published here too, but this piece by Baila Elkin is in a different class than anything I’ve seen here or elsewhere. The couplet at the Ms made me shiver! I’ve sent it on to good friends.

  4. Thank you, Dr.Elkin, for this exquisite sonnet. It brought back memories of work as a neurosurgical nurse. “The beauty and wonder of anatomy” indeed. May we continue to be reminded of the magnificence of the body via writing such as yours. You write as Michelangelo sculpted. Brava.

  5. Henry Schneiderman

    Terrific sonnet, so thoughtful, so true. I will look for more work from this physician-poet going forward.

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