I know more dead people than alive

This poem is about two scientists
who live in different countries
work under different conditions
———-on different problems
—-and with different ideological perspectives
————————————of the world

I met both of them standing
they had almost twice my years
but you wouldn’t be able to tell
if energy or passion were to be the measure

I then met them both wheelchair-bound
I want to walk again said one
I believe she will
I want to write something, a book, an article
about this – but I am only sure of the title
————————–said the other
“I know more dead people than alive”
and – turning to his research assistant
—————————-he continued
remember we wanted x and this colleague had died
————we wanted y and that other friend is no longer around
———-now we want z and Carlos Beyer is also gone

This discussion was in front of a dissected cat
————————————–anesthetised
with electrodes recording from a cutaneous nerve
(a nerve from the skin)
recording its response to a motor neuron
repeatedly stimulating a muscle
or – as my colleague put it
looking at how movement might make us feel

This man was in his wheelchair in his lab
his research assistant supporting him
My other friend, the woman
received me with her husband’s support
—————————at their home
She wanted a spectrophotometer
that would read in the far ultraviolet zone.

“I need to measure [this chemical] in seconds
not in minutes as current analytical assays do
and I know how to do this, I only need a decent spectrophotometer”
she told me, her eyes shining bright as she added
“It is very important to be able to do so”

3 thoughts on “I know more dead people than alive

  1. A book to honour Carlos Beyer (mentioned in the poem above) was published edited by Gabriela González Mariscal (who I know was his colleague in Tlaxcala) and Barry Komisaruk.
    http://avanceyperspectiva.cinvestav.mx/Publicaciones/ArtMID/4126/ArticleID/1278/Publican-libro-en-homenaje-al-pionero-en-investigaci243n-de-la-conducta-sexual

    He was one of the first scientists I heard of (but did not meet) when I arrived at the Cinvestav. Here is an older mention on twitter

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