nthposition online magazine

Half mile down

by Roisin Tierney

[ poetry - may 03 ]

And as the bathysphere descends and light gives up her warmer hues for blue
and blueness turns to black, the sea gives quarter to abyssal forms
a half mile down. I talk to Miss Hollister on the phone, as we sink ever deeper.
We rest at full three thousand feet. Our craft's electrical beam cuts through the dark.

Anglerfish with rows of luminous teeth maw against the window. I describe,
breathing into the phone, all that I see before me, a quartet of silver eels
swimming vertically, like arrows aiming for the moon, translucent jellyfish,
a giant octopus with an elephants head, the pale gleam of an occasional spiralling shrimp.

Hollister answers, garbling her words. My watch beads over. Through the windows
a light grows to twice its diameter, until the size of a penny. Some creature,
with patches of luminosity about its body, is swimming there. Too indistinct
to tell whether with or without a backbone. And then - this must be oxygen jag, I hear it speak:

You have come deeper than any man before. Nine tons of water presses on your head.
Did I call you here? My nature is to attract, then disappear. I fear for you,
so brave and in so deep, and try to dim my glow. But see,
as my lure grows dimmer, my phosphorescent trail grows very big.

Here it glows a deepest pink, and swims away, leaving a trail of lights.
The cameraman sees nothing. And when they crank us up and we ascend
slowly towards the ship and they unwinch the doors, we fall onto the deck,
and I for one, (against my better judgement) am straining for a view of Nonsuch Island.