Sunday, February 7, 2010

Deep Sea

When I was learning to read, I loved life
in most forms, but deep sea creatures best--
translucent mysteries, blind eyes, under-bites.
I weighed every volume from the Marine Biology shelf,
clutched them to my chest like secrets, like poems
I could not yet write.

These were the things unseen but real: creatures that were
alien not by virtue of their claim to another planet
but by the depth of their origin in Earth.
Terrifying, beautiful, they were poisonous, could dissolve
flesh with their mouths, could produce light. They survived
on what fell from the sun's grasp: a carcass,
perhaps a seal.

I could not fault monsters that obeyed their own economy.
What would it be to have no eyes?
What would it be to taste with my toes?
I would later learn that despite the illusion of unity
my body was not precisely an organism but an ecosystem--an effusion
of flora and tiny sea creatures, crowned by one
miraculous mind.

This did not surprise me, who had loved submerged beasts
without knowing why. Did I suspect myself reflected
in ghostly fish and spiny urchins?
My gut, my dreams, populated by distinct lives-
and no less my enemies, friends, the billions I will not recognize:
all planets orbiting other planets,
within a planet.