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Red Paint

mirande bissell / poem


                            The body has no eyes but countless 

jags of proteins. Lymphatic seas and viscous red rivers 

of me 

                  reroute themselves at night the way 

the world dies off 

                                       and begins over fuller when I am 

braiding a girl’s hair, my eyes down, her eyes, too, 

and when we look up again, it’s another world, slightly off 

from each one before 

                                           like the limping ballet of the grandfather 

clock that loses 

                                an hour over many weeks.


                                        Those chestnut ground-clouds of pollen

late spring 

                        call warning 

                                                like adolescence, sleepy and full,

like when I looked down to the brown fruits, spit-shined, 


                 split and spiked under the arches of my feet

when I was daydreaming and not careful, like when

I looked up 

                            my bathroom mirror noticed for the first time

my gums are not baby-pink, everything redder now

and angry, all of my lips fastened with one long sentence. 

What has betrayed me, though, 

                                                                less than my body, 

its lips caught in the gears of a clock?


Mirande Bissell is a teacher and poet who lives in Ellicott City, Maryland. Her first book of poems, Stalin at the Opera, was the winner of the 2020 Ghost Peach Press Prize.


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