In the Mariana Trench, deep-sea pressure
cradles the “I”.
Defined by everything I’m not, I stop worrying
and instead have a look
around. The sea is never empty here. It’s a vitreous humor
in a forgotten eyeball
at rest in space. Nothing is large or small, just desperately
related to difference.
What lives down here lives long, a single cell
grows to four inches.
Nothing is unreachable. What lives down here harbors
concentrated polychlorinated biphenyl,
or microplastics beneath translucent shells.
This is not merely an image for the thoughts
that I never eradicated from my mind, but far upwards, waves violently
assemble and the strike of water
on water awakens young algal blooms until the shore folds inward
to blue, a chemical reaction
in anticipation of predatory force. The pressure of water keeps bodies
shaped and calls forth a luminescent defense.
Men want nothing to do with light they didn’t make themselves.
I was playing a game under the bedcovers
but it’s over now.
Madeleine Wattenberg is the author of the poetry collection I/O, forthcoming from the University of Arkansas Press in March 2021. Her work has recently appeared or is forthcoming in journals such as Salamander Magazine, The Rumpus, Puerto del Sol, sixth finch, cream city review, DIAGRAM, and Best New Poets. She is a PhD student at the University of Cincinnati, where she serves as Assistant Editor for the Cincinnati Review.