Active Shooter’s Daughter By Brittney Corrigan

Active Shooter’s Daughter

I wasn’t enough. My new eyes, dark
and star shined, weren’t enough. My downy
scalp, still fragrant with the scent of beginnings,
was not enough. My small fingers wrapped
round her thumb were not enough .My coos. My
laughter. My wails when she left me. Not enough.

I wasn’t there. I wasn’t swathed against
her breast the way I should have been, slung
close enough to hear her metronomic heart,
cling to her new-mother belly, twist her
thick hair, bury my face in her neck. She passed
me over. Held something else in her arms.

I wasn’t enough. The reaching of my limbs for
her body in the night was not enough. The babble
rippling from my waking lips was not enough.
My skin sweet as ripe fruit. My ears tuned
to the lilting of her voice. My face a moon
of promise. Not enough. Not enough. Not enough.

I wasn’t old enough to know. My lullabies
sung with metallic snaps sand clicks. The rhythmic
rattle of ammunition shells. The shiny barrels
polished and caressed, so clean and tended.
Handed to my father as she leaned to place me
in my crib, cupped the heels of my feet in her palms.

I wasn’t enough.The auspice of my future.
Not enough. The safety of my world. Not enough.
The empty house, the shattered family. Neither
were enough. The road of shame before me.
The thought of me abandoned.The gaping of my life
without her life. None of it. None of it enough.

I wasn’t responsible. But oh sisters, oh brothers and fathers
and mothers, oh daughters and sons, oh friends and dear ones
crouched and laid flat by your fear, oh survivors,oh wounded,
oh ghosts. I wasn’t enough. I couldn’t stop them. Couldn’t
hold their hearts.So hold me. Hold me up into the mourners
and the cameras and the sun. Enough. Enough. Enough.

For the daughter of Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen MalikSan Bernadino, California, December 2015

By Brittney Corrigan

A poem from Disarm: A Themed issue Responding to Mass Shootings in America


Brittney 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). Her poems have appeared widely in journals and anthologies, and 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 information, visit

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