Fallopius Finds His Clitoris

Dr Fallopius
Gabriele Falloppio, known as Fallopius (1523- 1562)

Women were always harder to discover,
fewer on the gallows. Working his fingers
into the lower thorax (everything absent
but a thrill of ambition) he's quite ignorant
of his subject's rouged lips; the only warmth
a blade of light at the candle's tip

Falloppius searches an enquiring fingertip
into the upper pudendum, where he discovers
Dulcheo Amoris (whose delight will warm
to a lover's touch) between his fingers
“without which the female would be ignorant
of bodily pleasure, and all delight absent

from love”; while love betrays its absence
in the subject's waxy pallor. This thickened tip
which resembles a blister to the ignorant
the anatomist has now discovered
scummed to the wrist. He turns a finger
one sleeve rolled, his curiosity warming

to this new anatomy. But there is no warmth
in his methodical approach, humanity's absent
from the flesh he kneads and fingers
'Like a furled bud,' he muses; a beaded tip
any hay-tumbling peasant might discover
yet overlook in ignorance

as scholastic rivals might, in their ignorance
fail to delineate in writing. But the warm
shape of a love heart he is surprised to discover:
a love heart's curve and cushion not wholly absent
from the yielding pubis he now tips
upward to closer scrutinise. He sinks a finger

sails his hand and anchors it, thumb and finger
claiming this virgin land from its ignorant
native, whose naked toe-to-tip
frailty barely fills his slab, her warm
smear of rouge unregarded and, in absence
of any daylight, undiscovered.

Rob Hodkinson

If you have any thoughts on this poem,  Rob Hodkinson would be pleased to hear them.