Poems of Depth
June 1, 2000
Jun 1, 2000
1 Min read time
for Gerardo Deniz, based on his "20,000 Places Under Our Mothers," based on Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
O Ned your name is Land and it’s not anywhere near you;
you’re free in your captivity, holy paradox!
You tire of walking around the submarine,
of looking out at the luminous waters,
brimming with the phosphorescent zoophytes, tiny noctilucae, starfish and aurelias
you know not how to classify.
You’re bored with the sea breeze and the occasional horizon.
O harpooner, how did you land where the only bread is a replacement,
What creatures are you shooting in your mind?
How you manage to stop the hand, and instead reach for the diving suit.
The crew members hush when the captain’s right hand comes in.
Nemo knows he’s no one;
he enforces, forces.
Is he a double, or an appendage?
The closest of them all.
And if the captain were left-handed?
He says "Less paradigmatic,"
more so, more so.
Underwater’s reign is verticality.
Conseil hears the master’s cry and immediately asks
"Has it bitten you, Monsieur?"
"I’d pay with a limb to own the treasure I just found."
The cannibals throw stones; destroy it.
Destroy the left-handed shell, growing awkward against the clock.
Aronnax takes this lightheartedly; water being less dense,
certainly. He’ll plunge. Nemo hears no news about the incident.
There’ll be more expeditions coming up. They’ll be under, not above.
In the beds of Coral Kingdom,
the Anglo-Saxon crew member will forever dream of poinsettias, of cold Christmases.
His humor won’t be dry, for sure.
He had managed to learn that unrecordable language, and died with it.
And it’d been so long since he’d eaten raw vegetables.
Echoes of his hollering when the propeller caught his hair reverberate.
While we have you...
...we need your help. You might have noticed the absence of paywalls at Boston Review. We are committed to staying free for all our readers. Now we are going one step further to become completely ad-free. This means you will always be able to read us without roadblocks or barriers to entry. It also means that we count on you, our readers, for support. If you like what you read here, help us keep it free for everyone by making a donation. No amount is too small. You will be helping us cultivate a public sphere that honors pluralism of thought for a diverse and discerning public.
June 01, 2000
1 Min read time