My first approach to this illustration was to design something literal. I took imagery from the poem and struggled to find an interesting way to present it. After seeing my thumbnails the author admitted they'd wanted something abstract and as we discussed what that might look like the idea for the final piece came to life.
To create the final image I took the chambers and aortas from a cross section of the human heart and arranged them to resemble a Rorschach blot. Once I was pleased with the design I printed it out and transferred it to watercolor paper. As I worked on the final piece I wanted to move away from the rigidity of the digital sketch so the final image could feel more organic. Using various techniques such as wet into wet and dry brushing I found a way to make it both symmetrical and chaotic.