Dissecting the Rat

I stare at the letters on the page,
I repeat the word  "rat".
What does it mean?

it is no longer the furry rodent
that used to rattle noisily around cage five.

The sound "rat”,
the slight movement of air,
conveys only a sense of absence.

An absence
which troubles me
as I attempt to write my Report.

Until today
my relationship with the rats
had been both dispassionate and discontinuous.

But this morning as I walked into the laboratory
I saw a rat radiant in the rising sun.
I named him Daniel.

There are no gods.
No future without experiment.
Scientific research will always take priority.

Through the gas chamber’s frowzy glass
I observed Daniel’s final moments.
He didn’t appear to suffer.

I had not bothered to watch the process before,
choosing rather to lay out my instruments
and keep an eye on the clock.

But as the scalpel’s sure blade
lays bare the inner organs of the rat
I experience a sudden emotion of  ............