Obituary of the Last Radium Girl (#2)

Mae Keane

Obituary of the Last Radium Girl
Mae Keane dies at 107

She stunk at the job. Faster, fast, faster,
the boss barked. No slacking slacker
at eight cents a dial. She watched
the clock her small hands made glow–
a face incandescent, luminescent with radio-
active radium paint.

Here’s a tip, use your lips
to sharpen the bristles. Dip
your brush in the glow,
suck, suck, &
wrist watches will flow. But she
grimaced, told the boss “lip-pointing, no!”

He barked her out of a job.
That was 1924. In ‘27
the dying began gums
bleeding, bones
jaws Mae, mostly
spared, lost her

then came colon &

But on she ticked. What luck!
She’d stunk at her job.

(David Owens, The Hartford Courant, March 3, 2014)


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