Emily TUTTLE

Neurobiology of Sensation

We had to freeze the cockroaches
before we cut them open.
That way, the neurons stayed alive,
but they wouldn’t try to move
when we speared the pins into their legs.
Lab assistants assured us—
they do not feel pain, or cold—
unaware they were broken.

So we sat there,
waiting for them to set,
and wondered if they planned to escape
once we opened the door—
if they had conspired in small whispers
to sneak away once they saw
the light begin to crack,
but were surprised when they couldn’t.
How the cold must have snuck up on them
quietly, without panic—

how often that calm
must be confused with quiet.