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Eight Medical Students

David W. McFadden
From:   There'll Be Another. Vancouver: Talonbooks, 1995.


You get to see at least two different versions
of this painting of the execution of the eight
medical students of 1871
one is at the Carlos J. Finley Museum of Science
where Albert Einstein delivered a talk
to the Cuban scientists in 1930
(saying I'm afraid I don't know what)
and where Fidel Castro gave a talk to the
Cuban scientists in 1970 (saying the future of our
country must of necessity be that of men of science)
and the smaller is at El Museo de la Ciudad

Basically the students look very sad needless to say
in the smaller version two have been shot and are lying
in pools of blood with their blindfolds removed
another has been blindfolded and is kneeling in prayer
as he waits to be shot three are standing there
mournful and with great dignity and frightened eyes
one of the three is being blindfolded by a bearded soldier
behind them two others are locked in a tearful embrace
the students all look very intelligent and interesting
each has a face that seems so individual it had to be real
behind them vague and anonymous in the distance
the ranks of the firing squad
I like that kind of painting

What did these students do to deserve such a fate
they defaced tombstones in the Spanish cemetery
or as others say they defaced one tombstone

Who knows what people what diseases they would have
cured had they lived if nothing else and in a glass case
at the Science Museum you get to see their glasses
their watches and other items retrieved on the scene
a little rusted out by time and embarrassing to look at



Note: The atrocity herein referred to occurred during the third year of the inconclusive Ten Years' War (1868-1878) between Cuba and Spain.


David W. McFadden's works copyright © to the author.


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