Mus laboritorium

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Mus laboritorium

We should put up statues
To the mice that we have doctored,
That we’ve prodded in the genome,
And remodelled in the womb.
We should hail as heroes
All these spidermen of rodents
With their mutant-managed powers
That we twist and splice and groom.

Quick-grown maturity,
Inbred for purity,
With white fur unblemished,
While their cultured cells outlive them.
Red-eyed and pink-eared,
Stripped-down and re-geared,
Free of fleas and all disease
(Except the ones we give them).

I try not to think of how much pain
We put them through –
It’s what we have to do
To avoid the pain ourselves, I guess.
They’ve brought us so much gain,
But we’re too ashamed to speak it –
The sterile dirty little secret of our great success.

We should sing a ballad
To the mice who helped us conquer
Tuberculosis, polio,
Leukaemia and measles.
Or give a quiet thank-you
When a treatment proves effective –
They keep us safe from swine-flu,
So we keep them safe from weasels.

Dozens, hundreds, millions,
A well-groomed swarm resilient –
And when they die, attended by
A white-frockcoated mourner.
These un-cavy guinea-pigs,
These wheel-running whirligigs,
These supermodel-organisms
Squeaking in the corner.

I try not to think how many mice
Have died for me,
Have lived a life of agony
Because they are expendable, I guess.
They are the devil’s price
For our seeming immortality –
Our flexible morality, that drives us to progress.

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