Fall 2023

Elegy for One Billion Animals

By Brittney Corrigan

We can say to ourselves you didn’t suffer, but the truth
is a lick of flame climbing a brittle tree. Suffering is
the charred husks of bristlebirds. The singe of koala fur.

We can say it was only lightning at fault, but the truth
falls like ash. Wishing it were water, we wade ankle deep
in what remains, what skink and frog bodies have become.

We can say we’ll help you who have survived. We drop
carrots and sweet potatoes from the sky into wallaby paws.
Heat so thick it pulsates. No telling smoke from ghosts.

Little pouched ones, you mortal convoys scurrying
from the flames. If only we could turn out our pockets
and find you whole. We can say we’ll carry you:

scoop up you withered dunnarts and quokka, greater gliders
with your smoldering tails. Your black eyes like embering
coals as we wrap what’s left of you in the shirts off our backs.

But oh, honeyeater. Glossy cockatoo. Your nests exploding
suns as you lift and find no haven in the blackened air.
What can we do to resurrect you? What on earth can we say?


Brittney Corrigan is the author of the poetry collections Daughters, Breaking, Navigation, and 40 Weeks. Solastalgia, a collection of poems about climate change, extinction, and the Anthropocene Age, is forthcoming from JackLeg Press in 2023. Brittney was raised in Colorado and has lived in Portland, Oregon, for the past three decades, where she is an alumna and employee of Reed College. She is currently at work on her first short story collection. For more information, visit http://brittneycorrigan.com/.

Fall 2023