To us living in the modern medical age, the X-ray is commonplace, even antiquated, in the face of more sophisticated imaging, but it wasn’t so long ago when it was a magical looking glass into the very scaffolding of our lives.  This morning Ilyse Kusnetz takes us on a supremely poetic journey to meet the first couple of that miraculous breakthrough.  In her sure hands we see where the mysteries of science and affection intersect.

Röntgen’s Wife

By Ilyse Kusnetz

Each night the sun would ratchet down, he’d burnish
the X-ray plates with vinegar until they shone,

then he’d seek her out, the scent of leek soup warming
on the stove, her soft touch on his arm.
She remembered the night he coaxed her
into the lab, spread her fingers

gently in front of the glass, and counted off the seconds–
how the first X-ray ever created was proof of his love:

Portrait of a hand with wedding ring, diamond and band
like Saturn perched on her finger, each joint

like a moon, glowing in the flesh’s ghostly firmament.
I can see right through you, he’d joke, for the rest

of their lives. And she’d think how thin
her bones looked, curved like talons,

as if what lay concealed beneath a coat of skin,
unseen until he’d captured her, was flight.

Published with permission of the author.

0Ilyse Kusnetz received her M.A. in Creative Writing from Syracuse University and her Ph.D. in Contemporary Feminist and Postcolonial British Literature from the University of Edinburgh. She has had poetry published in Crab Orchard Review, The Cincinnati Review, Crazyhorse, Stone Canoe, Rattle, Poet Lore, the Atlanta Review, Artful Dodge, Kestrel, Barely South, MiPOesias, and Connotation Press: an Online Artifact, and she is the author of a chapbook, The Gravity of Falling (La Vita Poetica Press, 2006). She teaches at Valencia College.


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