The Road Ecologist Has a Heart-to-Heart with the Chicken
What is it about the road, she asks, that makes it the center of our lives? The road ecologist has stopped at the farm stand
for berries. The chicken is wandering loose, regards her with curious eyes, too wide in its staccato-shifting head.
The berries are red as the chicken’s comb, piled up generously in the little basket. The road ecologist feels
she might cry from their abundance, their sweet promise. The side of the road is two parts sorrow and one part joy,
she thinks, and the chicken seems to agree. It pecks a circle around her as she walks to her car, blinks in the near-dusk
sun. The road ecologist glances around, looks back toward the farm stand. No one is watching. No one is ever watching.
Let’s go together, she says to the chicken, lifting it into the front seat of her car. They share some berries, pull onto the open road.
The Road Ecologist Tries Hitchhiking
In the middle of nowhere, she thinks. That doesn’t even make sense. The road is a sleeping snake between hills. The road and the hills
are not nowhere, just miles from anything else that looks like her. The road ecologist studies roads that are more like dragons: awake
and belching smoke, thrashing their tails at the earth. Her car at the side of the road is a broken, hissing thing. Roadkill,
she thinks, ironically. Though what was I trying to cross? The road ecologist is only sort of running away from her life.
Her heart is like the roadside soil. Toxic. Particulated. Full of what it’s not meant to hold. Standing at the roadside,
the road ecologist thinks, I am somewhere, I am somewhere. She understands barriers, roads too risky to cross. The road
is empty, quiet, nothing bearing down. When the moose steps out of the woods, the road ecologist sticks out her thumb.
-- 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.