Meditation on the Butterfly Effect
What if the child has a fever, the mother bending in
to wake her as the heat rises up from her skin? What if
the child stays home, the sleep-damp curls swept wayside
by the mother’s touch? What if the mother calls in
to work, cradling the phone at her earlobe, cradling
the child in the crook of the other arm? What if the mother
takes off her heels, lies down on the child’s tousled bed?
What if the mother doesn’t get on that train, what if
she stays with the child, what if the child keeps sleeping?
What if the man keeps sleeping? What if the alarm
doesn’t sound, what if he’s dreaming of octopi,
their arms wrapped about one another in the ocean’s
deep pull? What if he oversleeps, what if the taxi horn
wakes him? What if he grabs his suitcase and yanks
on his clothes and stumbles out of the house, the tentacles
of the dream still fresh on his brain, his suitcase
rolling behind him, his coat flung over his arm? What if
he’s late to the terminal, what if he never gets
to the terminal, what if he’s stuck in traffic because
it already happened, what if he just heard the news?
What if I just heard the news? What if I just dropped
my daughter off at school, what if my heart doubles
back to her while I’m driving to work, what if the cars
in my country just keep driving? What if the news keeps
unfolding while I drive? What if I don’t stop the car?
What if I still go to work? What if I’ve left my son
at home with a fever, what if my son is still sleeping?
What if my husband’s still sleeping? What if he hasn’t
heard the news? What if the day keeps happening?
What if it all keeps happening? What if they still
strap on bombs? What if they still push luggage carts
through airports, still walk onto train cars, still explode?
What if the mothers still lift the fever-wet curls
of the sleeping children but the children still die?
What if the man dreams of octopi and misses his flight
but the travelers still careen with window shards
and nails and debris? What if the man with the bomb
changes his mind, remembers his mother’s tending, carries
the residue of childhood in his pocket, but detonates anyway?
What if the mother? What if the child? What if the man?
Storm Chaser’s Daughter
Britney Corrigan is the author of the poetry collection Navigation (The Habit of Rainy Nights Press, 2012) and the chapbook 40 Weeks (Finishing Line Press, 2012). She is the poetry editor for the online journal Hyperlexia: poetry and prose about the autism spectrum. Brittney lives in Portland, Oregon, where she is both an alumna and employee of Reed College. For more, visit brittneycorrigan.com.