Nicole Matis

I’m Drawn to Things with a Complicated Past


a poster of nervous anatomy

hangs in my living room

teaching fruit flies                   the importance of myelin


in grade school, I hold up a cauliflower

this is a brain

then smother the cortex in ranch

would you like a piece of cerebellum?



weighed the heart against a feather

for salvation

this            the prize           of hieroglyphic tombs

 while iron scrapes away a crooked head



best treated

by holes in the skull

drill meets dura           dura meets air            a control system exposed

while pieces remain to ward off ghosts


at the core of the earth sits a brain

     dopamine snow               and glutamate rain

I cling to this gray

 matter in the middle               the only organ I trust

to balance the scale


Nicole Matis is a pre-med student at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, studying biochemistry, psychology, and English. She interns at a nonprofit organization called Random Acts of Flowers, and is an ambassador for the international clinical shadowing program, Atlantis.