22 | Oasis | Laika

Oasis

Inside the veldt of your body:
a sphere of hurt. The dung beetle
that is your mind rolls it across
your chest, gathering the bitter
leavings, until it grows so large
you are pressed to the earth
with its weight. Lions stalk
your rib cage, how it rises
and falls with your undoing.
Vultures, reverent in
their watch, wait for you
to succumb. What you didn’t
expect was how the rough
tongues of the cats smooth you
to a sheen. When the baboons
move in around you, raucous
with their concern, you allow
them to groom. They pick each
nit from around your heart
until it is tender from their work,
beats loud enough to quiver
the dung ball to crumbs. You
thank the baboons, take their
faces between your hands. You
even thank the big cats, their
barbed tongues a necessary
kindness in the dusty heat
of the hungry world.


Laika

      After the Soviet space dog of Sputnik 2 (1957)

Frightened, we shove things before us into the world.

decoy
                        subject
                                              shield

Sometimes beings, hearts tripling in pace.
Panting.
Breath expiring as the monster overhangs.

The canary’s song
dwindles
in the darkness of the tunnel’s cold bones.

Small animals
carry tumors on their backs until we’re certain
we understand.

The little dog in her spacesuit
remembered how the streets were lean.

How she ran in a pack, chasing down
the hobbled and the weak.

How she barked until her name became that barking.

Her body circled and circled
the Earth, which still held us.
Circled and circled, the way dogs do
when they’re trying to lie down.


Brittney Corrigan was raised in Colorado but has called Portland, Oregon her home since 1990. She holds a degree from Reed College, where she is also employed. Brittney’s poems have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, and she is the author of the collection Navigation (The Habit of Rainy Nights Press) and the chapbook 40 Weeks (Finishing Line Press). A chapbook of poems responding to events in the news over the past several years, Breaking, will be published by WordTech Editions in April 2021. Her newest collection, Daughters, a series of persona poems in the voices of daughters of various characters from folklore, mythology, and popular culture, is forthcoming from Airlie Press in 2021. For more information, visit Brittney’s website: http://brittneycorrigan.com/.