“Truck Carrying Live Eels Overturns on Highway 101” by Brittney Corrigan

Brittney Corrigan


As if the headline weren’t enough
it’s the photograph: smashed back
end of a sedan pouring with eels,
the trunk and bumper pulling
away from each other like the jaws
of a feeding whale, surfacing
through krill and zooplankton while
water streams and drains out
either side, one door ajar like a fin
thrust into the flooded roadway,
trying to sieve and swim. And the
thousands of pounds of eels, weighing
almost as much together as a small
whale, exult in their slimy
flight and spillage. They can sense
the ocean just beyond the screeching
tires, the buckling metal, the white
explosions of airbags. The hagfish,
their double rows of keratin teethlets
gasping through the ooze, squirm
and wriggle in their primitive beauty,
a muculent writhing toward the sea,
not to be shipped off to Korea, not
this time, no, they are their own
aphrodisiacs, viscous mass of lives
across the pavement, racing the bulldozer,
the push of its knobby, rolling track
folding them on top of each other
as if they were no more than snow,
clearing a path through the wreckage
in which no one was injured.

Poets Respond
July 16, 2017

[download audio]


Brittney Corrigan: “The bizarre nature of this accident captured my imagination when I first read the headline, but the photographs were even more enthralling. As more outlets beyond my local news began to pick up the story, I was struck by two comments in particular. First, a deep sea ecologist describing the 300-million-year-old fish as ‘magnificent,’ and second, the repeated statement that no one was seriously injured. It made me think about the situation from the perspective of these prehistoric, albeit disgusting, creatures.” (website)

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