Mood Ring (Ice Blue)

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.