Mary Alexandra Agner





Fairy Tale Genetics

I am the princess of dirt          
and pollinators, perennial not annual,         
ritual of birth then decay denied me          
for a hundred sleeping years.           
They gave me to the spindle.           
Grimm tales cloud me over           
with suitors, merely the trellis          
for alliums soon to bitter then flower,         
their seed the only one            
I cared enough to collect,           
cross-breed:  woman-onion           
Punnett square predicting           
laughter laced with garlic,           
green-streaked skin, desire           
for deep roots in colder places.

I give my body to the future,
cut and grafted from a cage,
my green thumb snubbed;
princesses and potting soil only prosper
in science fiction fairy tales.

You doubt? I planted well.
Come spring they'll sprout like weeds.

Doomflower XIII

Legumes leave nitrogen, stealing it from expelled human breath and littering dirt with it. Nightmares fix nothing to roots, suffocate seeds with flooding, leave your soil soaked and empty, fear filling all the interstices. They force you fallow. Rest unearned is earth upturned, weed seeds given power. Spade and claw lost, earthworm holes choked with rhiozomes, manure is your only hope. Compost-heap hot, dig deeper into the darkness. Decay to bloom.


Mary Alexandra Agner writes of dead women, telescopes, and secrets. Her most recent book of poetry is The Scientific Method (Parallel Press 2011). The Journal of Unlikely Cryptography published her short story "Chilaquiles Con Code" in early 2014. Her science nonfiction runs the gamut from Paper Droids to the coffee table volumes of national labs. She can be found online at