Sinéad O’Connor Was Right All Along

An elegy by Erika Meitner

Sinéad O’Connor Was Right All Along

The Shape of Progress

O Sinéad—you are dead &
the headlines beside you are all 
interest rate increases & thermal 

hellscapes. I am new to the prairie
but even the New York Times thinks Duluth
is the place to be in the Anthropocene;

climate-proof, they dubbed it:
ample freshwater & buffered 
from sea-level rise. Sinéad—

I am listening to “Just Like U Said 
It Would B” on repeat & it was exactly
that when you called out misogyny, 

excessive commercialism, sex abuse 
in the Catholic church, a climate scientist 
who says now all the projected changes

are happening, & this morning to beat
the record temps, I woke before dawn
to walk backroad shoulders littered

with crushed Bud Light cans & sandwich
clamshells & skittering chip bags tossed 
from car windows into Queen Anne’s lace,

purple chicory still folded in 
on itself—it’s so early the sun is just
rising wildfire orange over the tracks 

draped in kudzu, & Sinéad, the invasive
species are everywhere—the spotted
lanternflies too that I’m supposed to kill

on sight, but who has the heart 
for that kind of violence. I wish 
I had your conviction & righteousness. 

Instead of thwacking them, I’ve been 
trapping them under drinking glasses 
until they suffocate & the radio 

is playing “Nothing Compares 2 U” 
all day as tribute while their delicate 
pinkish polka-dotted wings are still 

beating, & Sinéad—I think you might 
like the farm across the road with 
a Manure Happens sign out front,

& even the green barn with punched 
out windows next to it the neighbors
call the meth lab, maybe as a joke

or maybe not. Sinéad, you were 
always right—nothing compares 
to you—not even the climate 

apocalypse. But I’m still here 
with my similes. This July is the 
hottest month on Earth since scientists 

have kept records. This week 
the ocean off the coast of Florida 
reached 100 degrees Fahrenheit—

a toddler running a low fever,
the temperature of an average hot tub. 
Sinéad, you sing I will learn how to 

sink & to swim, & your voice is 
an emergency, triple digits, summer 
asphalt, breath blowing charcoal 

briquettes to life.

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