They say I buried stone towns under walls
of mud and cracked cities with tremors.
I frosted the orange groves—kicked up
an anthrax wind. Gasp, girl, people say,
shoving me. Powdered judges in wigs hear
how in my severity I blacked out valleys
with EMPs, and asphyxiated with skin rot
a species of thumbnail frog I’d held. Now,
I am forbidden in the royal amphibiary.
My body has turned the kingdom to dead reeds.
It was my own mother who sent in the sea
captain. Kelp trails him, and we stay up late
reading The Voyage of the Beagle. He takes
three weeks alone to unbutton my sleeve.
When I laugh, even he does not know: everything
will begin over again: the buffalo tramping back
from the west, the Brace’s emerald, pygmy elephant,
Carolina parakeet—restored. Vines will pull
the bridges down strut by strut, and the augur
drop his scope when the first of the last
great auks reappears before our iron seagates.
Mirande Bissell received her MFA from Bennington College in 2019, and lives and works near Baltimore, Maryland.