V  P  R

Contemporary Poetry and Poetics





Science, questions and precision,
always her passion. A doctor,
just beginning her research
as Italy's doors slammed, labs
shut. Signs nailed on every
street, demanding neighbors shoot
anyone suspected of being a Jew.

And still the passion, setting
up a make-shift lab in the bedroom,
incubating chick embryos, silver
staining, sealing in paraffin.
By candlelight, slicing with
a micrometer, comparing nerve
cells as bombs fell and shattered.

And still the passion. Lugging
the Zeiss microscope, ophthalmic
scissors, watchmaker's forceps
to the basement during nightly
deafening hours. Women praying;
children crying; she, a doctor
cradling slides, pondering neurons.

Moving the passion to the hills
to escape Turin rats and rubble,
setting up another lab on a tiny
table, begging farmers for fertilized
eggs, "better for the babies," she said,
but she had no babies, always working 
alone, carried by questions, passion

and neurons just beginning
to differentiate, cell from cell,
spinal column from ganglia,
wondering what and how, studying
through the night, coming nearer
to seeing, closer to uncovering
what she would call "growth factor"

and maybe, out of the lugging
and begging, the confinement
and isolation, out of the will
to ignore hatred and terror,
out of the passion to find beauty
in silver-stained slides, maybe—
for Alzheimer's, spinal cord
injuries, multiple sclerosis—
just a bit sooner, a cure.                      


© by Davi Walders


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