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Skaidrite Stelzer

A Fugue for Marie

Marie Curie works the pitchblende.
In her hands it turns to radium.
In her life she looks for extractions
—the pulling of one thing from another—
unraveling that intermingled web

to see the directions
which never were enclosed;
to find the cures
which turn out to be, after all,
wound up
with brand new illnesses.

Her husband’s skull is crushed
in one moment,
giving her little to care about.
She starts then to become a scandal.
She knows then she deserves
more than one prize.
The lover’s wife still
pursues her through alleys,
these twists of a life
that could not be still.

Afternoon with willow branch.
The daughter would have painted that.
But radium bleaches the bones eventually.
The dried hair crumbles.
are never harmless,
emitting the future:
the brittle nails,
purpling fingers.

Skaidrite Stelzer was born in Berchtesgaden, Germany and grew up as a displaced person in Kalamazoo Michigan. She enjoys all the animals of the world, including humans, and loves to teach writing in new and experimental ways at The University of Toledo. She encounters a fresh world every day.

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