Monday, November 7, 2011

"Power" by Adrienne Rich (Happy Birthday, Marie Curie!)


Living     in the earth-deposits     of our history

Today a backhoe divulged     out of a crumbling flank of earth
one bottle     amber     perfect     a hundred-year-old
cure for fever     or melancholy     a tonic
for living on this earth     in the winters of this climate

Today I was reading about Marie Curie:
she must have known she suffered     from radiation sickness
her body bombarded for years     by the element
she had purified
It seems she denied to the end
the source of the cataracts on her eyes
the cracked and suppurating skin     of her finger-ends
till she could no longer hold     a tube-test or a pencil

She died     a famous woman     denying
her wounds
her wounds     came     from the same source as her power


Adrienne Rich. The Fact of a Doorframe: Poems Selected and New 1950-1984. New York: Norton, 1984. 225.

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