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‘Marie Curie’s radium’

Don’t think you can leave me at the lab,
locked in, safely far from your flat.
Don’t think you can leave me
in that rickety shed you stole
from anatomists
when even they didn’t want it.
You shut me in with the white ghosts of skulls
that are more space than matter.
But I don’t think you washed your hands of me
and if you did, it is not enough. I will cling
to your dress, smear
under your wedding ring, drip
from your skin like the Paris rain,
washing into the gutters. At home,

you will smooth me over your daughter’s chin with your fingers
as sure as a virus, and I
will cosy up to her cell nuclei.
You know me, my ulebieniec
do you like to hear your own language, instead
of his eternal, infernal French?

So tonight,
when he touches your thigh’s inside
he will leave my fingerprints on your skin,
it will be me coming
inside you much further
than he ever could,                        me
you are seeking, my mouth
taking you as I suck
your stem cells from your marrow.
Believe me, cherie, it will be me
that will have you at the end.
But for your devotion, I will let you
have my secrets. You will need to decide, Madame,
whether it will be worth it.



‘Marie Curie’s radium’ was written on Helen Mort’s online course, Poetry and the Brain.

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