Friday, January 21, 2011

Condensation Polymers

Quotations in italics are from the Wikipedia article on Carothers, the inventor of Nylon and Neoprene.

Wallace Carothers kept a capsule
of cyanide on his watch chain: you can't
be too careful. He went to work
at Purity Hall for DuPont

though he conscientiously told them
that he suffered from neurotic spells
of diminished capacity, which might constitute
a much more serious handicap there than here.

(Here being university, where incapacitation
from periodic gloom is the done thing.)
Purity Hall, where they did basic research
with a free hand, supposedly. Not really.

And weeks before his new substance
came to the public as the stuff of stockings
and the parachutes that would win Normandy
He put his skills to practical use,

dissolving his capsule in lemon juice, knowing
that the ingestion of cyanide in an acidic solution
would greatly intensify the speed and effect
of the poison. No note was found.

He strokes the thighs of indifferent women now
and forever in the chains of consequence,
in the endless complex of condensation,
in the polymers of the afterlife.

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