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She shreds her old life,
plucking primaries like a knife
thrust reversed, rachides
cracked, barbs catching
at this new skin until
trust pulled taut
fractures her peaceful future,
beloveds disbelieving
finery spun from flight,
her word a fairy tale.

Once upon a second time,
she refuses to lose the feathers.
Fed up, she sharpens her beak,
demands a man act
like a crane in love, laughing
at his toes, his ugly gait.
His unrequited trust
pierces her through the sternum.
So what? She's lived this long
with a heart full of holes.



Mary Alexandra Agner writes of dead women, telescopes, and secrets. Her poetry, stories, and nonfiction have appeared in The Cascadia Subduction ZoneShenandoah, and Sky & Telescope, respectively. She can be found online at http://www.pantoum.org.
Current Issue
21 Sep 2022

There is little more inspirational than a writer who devotes her talents to the work of others.
I was twelve when my mother was born. Twelve or thereabouts. If I’d been older, I could have said things like I never wanted to be a daughter; I don’t have a filial bone in my body. Relatives could have tilted their heads at me, insisting I’d change my mind. But I was twelve so I said nothing. I had no relatives.
a few miles from the fallout zone. / You double-check the index card
Unripe morning / cut open too soon
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