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Sport 40: 2012

Faith in this world

page 109

Faith in this world

Rosalind Franklin (1920 –1958)

She says that faith in this world
is perfectly possible without faith in another.
Taking x-ray photos, the rays scatter
off the surfaces of infinitesimal specks,
leaving spots on photographic paper
making them real as billiard balls.
The unseen defined by how things bounce off.

Gas masks need the right kind of charcoal,
some are more impervious than others.
She wants to know the structure of coal,
to contribute to the war effort.
Rosalind and carbon are compressed,
naturally combustible, but she’s as refined
and focused as her micro-camera.

Ever since Eve, woman asked for it.
If she’d worn a lead apron.
If she’d taken off her glasses
and done something with her hair.
If she hadn’t been so
damned impervious to penetration.
If she hadn’t been the dark lady, the Jewess.
If she wasn’t so combative in the lab.
Lacking intuition—she needs proof.

To decode our programme she needs to
capture the double helix on film.
The waves pass through her
every day. If she doesn’t believe the cancer will
kill her then maybe it won’t.