Poem for Marie Curie

I found my inspiration for this poem — as I often do — at The Writer’s Almanac. November 7 was Marie Curie’s birthday, and the biographical details about this scientist got me thinking about women and how we are perceived.


for Marie Curie


Our notes are radioactive

scribbled in radioactive rooms

as we lived radioactive lives —

We are born — We are married — We have children — We work

somewhere else where there

is more freedom than at home —

We learn underground, in secret,

with discarded test tubes — We stir the cauldron

ourselves —

We forget we carry radioactivity in our pockets —

We discover — We inadvertently invent —We donate

our prizes —We do not need awards — the evidence

of our genius is sealed in lead-lined boxes

so no one

will touch —

be transformed


  1. Powerful, Megan. I read it three times so far and each time something else emerged. I think a 4th or 5th time will result in yet a 4th and 5th observation that resonates. I love the pairing of these words: “…inadvertently invent…”.

    The Writer’s Almanac stirs my thoughts like nothing else.