Susan B.A. Somers-Willett is the author of two books of poetry, Quiver (VQR Series, U of Georgia Press) and Roam (Crab Orchard Series, Southern Illinois U Press), and a book of criticism, The Cultural Politics of Slam Poetry (U of Michigan Press). Her poems have appeared in publications such as Virginia Quarterly Review, Indiana Review, Gulf Coast, and The Iowa Review as well as on the Public Radio International program Studio 360. Her honors include the Ann Stanford Poetry Prize and the Robert Frost Poetry Award and fellowships from the Millay Colony and the Mellon Foundation. She is an Assistant Professor at Montclair State University in New Jersey.
A thing in itself always diminishes. From this:
light, heat, the order of matter burning into more matter.
The radium atom in particular proves unstable and thus produces
tiny blue lights, which is not unlike a view of the world from above
in satellite. In the damp laboratory at night, and for their enjoyment,
Pierre and Marie dance among ramshackle benches and glowing
bulbs of glass. Flame stutters: a question in the lamp.
Their fingers soon turn black with the burns of their work.
In this they know that what they study is the chemistry of perdition.
That the source of the light in the world is the world's demise.
Marie figures the days left of its hazard and its blessing.
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