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 Curieshe 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 test-tube or a pencil
She died a famous woman denying her wounds denying her wounds came from the same source as her power
I came across this poem today because I am reading Wild by Cheryl Strayed, a grief-stricken and lost woman who decides to hike the Pacific Crest Trail to find catharsis. She is completely unprepared and ends up carrying a ridiculously heavy pack. Later on in her journey she is given some help on what items she can get rid of to lighten her load. She relented on most things except her copy of The Dream of a Common Language by Adrienne Rich. She brought other books as well, but was able to burn chapters as she read them. But there was something in this book that she safeguarded and there was some reason she carried it thousands of miles. I wanted to know why. I felt connected to Cheryl a few pages in because she was a female backpacker, choosing a poetry book as her lone companion. It had to be pretty special.
After no luck in a used bookstore, I decided to cross the street and search in Barnes and Noble. Lo and behold, there was one copy left. Too curious to find a table, I plopped myself down on the carpet. Tall bookshelves rose above me as I turned to the first poem. It was the same poem Cheryl turned to her first night on the trail. It was perfect.