Letter to Marie Curie | Tanis MacDonald
Beets are no strangers to photosynthesis. A moulded
brassiere rethinks the cup. Caves drip, and all clarity
is archival. The technician explained barium isotopes before
injecting me and then we waited for the positron
emission. I was as young then as you were when you moved
to Paris to study after years at the Flying University, before
lab work and marriage and widowhood and polonium.
Imaging and diagnosis. Gamma camera. That tick and rustle
was all me, importunate visitor on a guided tour of my bones.
Spasm rhymes with neoplasm, but this is not that kind of letter.
Znalazłem to. You discovered and Dr. F plucked my tumour out
on a Monday morning. He ranks high on RateYourMD, and
you won two Nobels. How long until you rule the periodic
kingdom by divine right? You made sure to teach
your daughters Polish. There are six stable isotopes
in naturally occurring barium. I’ve had thirty years
to rethink that day, and the scar on my neck shines
only when I lift my hair. Clarity is archival, and so is fear.
Tanis MacDonald (she/her) lives in southwestern Ontario, Canada, and teaches at Wilfrid Laurier University. Her latest book is Straggle: Adventures in Walking While Female (Wolsak and Wynn, 2022). Recent poems have appeared in Grain, Freefall, and Minola Review.