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Beneath the Waves

by Young Smith


On the streetcar one evening, I met a fat little man
with a face full of warts where his beard should have been.
He was interested in the mysteries of deep ocean vents,

where, he said, there are life forms found nowhere else
on the planet. Great clusters of tube worms, for example,
waving in the dark, many of them over six feet in length!

You could find pale spider crabs there and giant white clams,
carpets of starfish, clouds of blind shrimp. Until recently,
he said, before the lamps of the submarines found their way

at last to those fields of chimneys, not a single photon of light
had ever brushed the black trenches where they lay.
The little man showed me photographs in a large book

on the subject, and as I studied his pictures, I came to see how,
as he put it, alone in bed late at night, one might find a peculiar
comfort in this landscape with no use for eyes.

 

Young Smith has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Kentucky Arts Council. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Poetry, Beloit Poetry Journal, The Iowa Review, Pleiades, Crazyhorse, American Literary Review, and other publications. He is assistant professor of English at Eastern Kentucky University. (1/2006)


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