On studying the intense drawings of Leonardo Da Vinci I always wonder if the act of drawing is a way, his way, of trying to break open the existence of the thing he is drawing, and that by doing so it may give up answers to its mystery.

Leonardo’s Skull

Drawing inside the hospital
of Santa Maria Nuova
I return to him again.
The boy felled in the piazza,
thrashing like a hundred
harvest scythes, snowdrifts
mounting the battlements of his lips.
I’ve many questions,
about his skull, its knobbly frame,
scaffold around the brain,
a wizened walnut,
gilded in its bloody tomb.
Probing with my pen
is as good as any blade,
as any weapon in the morgue.

Today we tinker with pills –
but how much better
than a nib,
Latin in the margins?
Today we call them ‘fits’,
dances in the dark,
not the ancients,
‘Kiss of Artemis.’ Kiss?
No something darker –
a work in collaboration –
with some demon imp,
each dance a repetition
of a previous draft,
complete with staccato.

Should we fear the brain?
We know the messenger,
crafty and winged,
struggle without its tip-off.
My son says Leonardo
would recognise a puddara –
but his aura?

Unpublished poem, Jane Weir 2015, used by permission of the author

Jane Weir in the Poetry Store

The free tracks you can enjoy in the Poetry Archive are a selection of a poet’s work. Our catalogue store includes many more recordings which you can download to your device.