The feather and the scalpel blade

A feather and a scalpel blade:
A perfect tableau these two made,
On a bench of sterile white
In sharp relief, in harshest light.

The surgeon's hand upon the scene
Intrudes, with knife and instinct keen;
A thumb and finger move to part
The skin, to find the silent heart.

His gloves protect him from the flood
Of sudden, scarlet, still-warm blood;
Once his lessons have been learned
The soiled garments will be burned,

The reddened feathers will remain:
A memory of former pain.
The self-styled surgeon, satisfied,
Allows himself a moment's pride:

His work is done, each mystery
Now pinned or pickled carefully,
Each fact recorded in his head:
The world is finite, neat, and dead.

Beyond the window soars unseen
A dream of flights that might have been.
The surgeon's mind, on higher things,
Ignores the whisper of its wings.

What visions can be tamed with steel?
What truth can loveless knife reveal?
What seas, what clouds, what endless sky
Are mirrored in a lifeless eye?

What science lays bare the dreamer's art?
What cold design lay in the heart
Of some dark God when first he made
The feather and the scalpel blade?

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