Helen Heath

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Marie Curie (1867 –1934)

A soft blue glow.
The glass vial of radium salts
transmits joy, like a distant sun or
a luminous dial.
She likes to keep it by her bed, always.
In the evening a moth at the window
taps out a syncopated message,
perhaps a warning, gamma,
gamma, gamma.

At night she is the moth
bumping against the soft blue glow,
pulled to the point from which
all things radiate, to the spontaneity
of atomic nuclei collapsing.
She lets the splendid beams
spread over her.

In the day she goes downstairs
to the backyard, the laboratory shed,
puts on her smock with the holes
where the salts burn through.
She is radiant. She fills
another notebook, her fingers barely register
the pen, their tips scarred hard.

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