Wondertale Written on a Girl’s Body

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

Mirande Bissell received her MFA from Bennington College in 2019, and lives and works near Baltimore, Maryland.