A Letter from Marie Curie
barely glances at the foreign words
but she likes the stamp.
It is a kind of pale blue
she hasn’t seen much of.
The lawyer who brought the letter
talks of a famous scientist
who found the magic ingredient
that made the clockfaces she painted
shine in the dark. He doesn’t say
that each lick of the brush
took a little more radium
into her bones, that in
sixteen hundred years
if anything remained of her
it would still be half as radioactive
as the girl is now,
thumbing through the atlas
she asked her sister to borrow.
He explains that Marie Curie
is anaemic too, but the girl
isn’t listening. She found
it’s not so big. The lawyer shrugs:
She says to eat plenty of raw calves’ liver.
- Lavinia Greenlaw -“Nachtaufnahmen” page.10