Atop a stack of mattresses, she senses something needling at her hip.
A lonely spacecraft outruns the Sun, approaches the space between stars.

She turns over in her not-sleep, thinks of turtles all the way down.
From the edge of the solar system, one planet but a Pale Blue Dot.

Beneath the stack of mattresses, a pea the size and shape of the Earth.
Where the Sun’s reach ends, cosmic rays blaze in the deepening cold.

She tosses and turns as turtles shift their weight. Teeter and sway. 
The edge of the heliosphere expands and contracts like a lung.

Her body pushes against sleep as she flings a blanket over the edge. 
Billions of miles from the Sun, the boundary beckons. The spacecraft

makes the crossing, and the turtles lean. She sits up and dangles her legs,
scratches at a welt on her bare thigh. Finds there is no way down.


When my dogs go berserk at the hound next door—
the air on our side of the fence thick with baying
and barking I must thorn my way through 
to talk them down—I think of the planet Mars,
named for the Roman god of war. Craters
and canyons and volcanoes the color of blood,
red dust swirling in the freezing wind.
On its rocky surface, a pack of rovers shift
their robotic eyes across the mineral soil. 
My dogs hackle and lather and pant while
on the next planet over Sojourner, Opportunity, 
and Spirit—blind and staid—growl 
at the shiny newcomer with the last 
of their mechanical breath. But Curiosity 
wags its tail as Perseverance lands and sniffs
at the regolith ground. I think of the Roman
god’s sons, suckling at the teats of a wolf.
How one would build a wall. Would kill
his brother for vaulting it. I yell a little, 
then smooth the fur along the dogs’ backs, 
look them in their eyes until they relent 
and submit. As we rotate here, Mars rotates 
more slowly, and the new rover sends 
its helicopter pup out into the dust.
Over the crater’s rim, the barren ridge,
the rise of this wooden fence, we must choose
how to approach the howling unknown.

Field Day

You were the girl who could run faster 
than the boys, faster than the new boy: 
soccer-spangled, pocket-combed, blue-eyed, 
fourth grade stringer of hearts. You were the girl 
who loved to bear crawl, hands splayed out, 
fingernails deep in the Colorado grass, your body 
buoyed above your preteen limbs like a thundercloud
building across the Front Range. You were the girl 
who could crab walk backwards, arms bent so your 
elbows led the way, your tanned and scraped legs 
following insect-like in rapid plodding, neck crooked
to see the finish line, strange creature of a landlocked 
coming of age. You were the girl who could skip 
mightily, hop on one foot for feet on end, run 
in reverse watching all your classmates recede, 
sprint full out forward into the sunny afternoon.
You were the girl with a fist full of ribbons, blues 
and reds and golds bouqueting from your sweaty hands. 
You were the girl barely winded at the contests’ end, 
your breath a humble compass of your body’s blaze. 
Just let them try to bring you to your knees.

About the Author:

Brittney Corrigan is the author of the poetry collections DaughtersBreakingNavigation, and 40 WeeksSolastalgia, 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

*Featured image by Pexels from Pixabay