Trepanation

By Lucy A. Snyder

The first migraine-plagued caveman

who countered his aching cranium

with crudely pounded flint (and lived)

surely shared his medical breakthrough.

Headcutting is old as woodcutting.

Aztec shaman or Greek physician,

a good doctor knew the value

of airing out a fevered brain.

In dark ages before Lister and Pasteur,

chirurgeons didn't know a virus

from a curse, but they needed a name

for the rusty saw they used to open

a blow-swelled skull: the trepane

saved careless courtiers from coma.

Modern surgeons' steel is clean, but treat

tyro trepanation with trepidation. Teen

mystics sing high of tuning third eyes

and praise their cordless doorknob drills

for opening new windows of perception

even as they lie blinded, bacterial feasts.


Lucy A. Snyder studied to become a biologist, trained to become a journalist, and now provides tech support for a very large university. Her work has appeared in a wide variety of print and electronic publications, including Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet, The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and Fantasy, Guardian Angels, Villains Victorious, and Masques V; you can also see some of it in our archives.