Vol. 38 No. 4 · 18 February 2016

The Ghost of Marie Curie Works up a Chorus while Chatting to Enthusiasts at a Model Engine Rally in 2015

Claire Crowther

169 words

All you men crouching by a nine-carriage train
that’s stopped sauntering through the countryside, I know
you dream that what you’ve made will move again.
I know why you stay stooping

over cream and maroon livery when stock
rolls out of Gorpeton Blymee. You are checking
lost detail. You’ll remake exactly what
you’ve made. Your trains are guarding,

circling, what was engineered long since. For once,
turn away from Bassett-Lowke traction engines,
read this ad for radium – Buy a Piece
through the Post! Experiment!

Model Engineering knew in 1910
a woman had found what none of us could have made.
When I identified rays
that move through fog, through flesh, through fact, after

I’d ground, dissolved, collected
precipitate, I stunned a moment. Steam,
with its air of work and modernity – lost.
Oh, you’ve reconstructed my front-line X-ray cars!

They were nicknamed les petites Curies. They drove
away old views: perfect toys for discovering
the location of shrapnel
in bodies (broken, but they moved again).

Send Letters To:

The Editor
London Review of Books,
28 Little Russell Street
London, WC1A 2HN


Please include name, address, and a telephone number.

Read anywhere with the London Review of Books app, available now from the App Store for Apple devices, Google Play for Android devices and Amazon for your Kindle Fire.

Sign up to our newsletter

For highlights from the latest issue, our archive and the blog, as well as news, events and exclusive promotions.

Newsletter Preferences