Jeannine Hall Gailey

SELF-PORTRAIT AS RADIOACTIVE GIRL


I’ve been eating poisoned apples
unknowingly my whole life.

In my portrait, my hair glows green
along with my skin-tight catsuit,

a mask over eyes that may or may not
emit an otherworldly blue glow.

In my bones, organs, skin, I’ve been storing
all of America’s dark secrets

from exposure – Cesium 137, Iodine 131.
Man-made isotopes, created for one purpose – death.

My medical history is pure science fiction,
nuclear accidents and robot parts.

Nuclear energy is clean and safe, the men in dark suits
will tell you, the same men who tapped our phones

and lurked in corners around Oak Ridge, always alert
for spies. They know exactly what happens

to the children of these workers, eating the produce
and milk grown from earth sown with nuclear waste,

contaminated groundwater, radioactive dust.
Lung and liver and brain bloom with lesions,

mysterious in origin, and doctors have told me
I am like the X-Men, a mutant of incredible origin

with no statistics to match my patterns.
At the end, I explode a pure blue flame,

my radioactive atoms returning to the earth and sky.

 

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