The -OLOGISTS | Mary Alexandra Agner

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Mary Alexandra Agner writes of dead women, telescopes, and secrets. Her poetry, stories, and nonfiction have appeared in The Cascadia Subduction Zone, Shenandoah, and Sky & Telescope, respectively. She can be found online at


Hypothesis Between Your Ribs

Doting father who undermined scientific thought with the idea of slow change in a fast world, would he have given his eldest daughter a hand lens or a dance card when she came of age? Annie Darwin died young and unformed, reframed by her father's eulogy and the remnants of her writing desk passed down through generations of expansive attics. Sweet disposition, keen observer, true to her own quirks, what did she think when she saw the hippopotamus in London town? Life taught her fathers dissect daylight hours at the microscope, scribbling barnacles, worms, wonders of South America stuffed into paper cages during years of study. She had two hands: one for the fan for the dance, one for the naturalist's case. Demure, she'd disarm you, slip her hypothesis between your ribs while her eyelashes flirted. Daddy's favorite, she had the nibs and the knife and the know-how, had she lived, and she'd evolved to use them.

 *appeared previously in  Interfictions