1. Siple Dome
After three years of drilling, we reached
bedrock, two-thirds of a mile under
the humpbacked bulge of winter.
Each season, six fresh inches of ice
put us closer to Jesus on one side,
machinery to whatever else on the other.
Sometimes the scientists gave us trash
chips to splash in our gin & tonics
— you could hear bubbles of air & ash,
dust that’s fifty thousand years old crack
& pop. There’s so much pressure at bottom,
it squeezes a whole century into an inch-
thick wafer of time. Neanderthals roamed
Europe. Homo sapiens still hadn’t left
African plains when that sliver of core
was last exposed to the pale, thin light.
Now pieces break off the Antarctic cap
at rapid rates & float out to sea. Coastal
cities could be swamped in just a few
centuries. Sure I was drunk, but one
afternoon after work had stopped, wind
sliced through the rigging, & I’d swear
I heard singing. It was the last day
before the end of what passes for summer.
We’d soon leave for home. I spit a nickel
I’d kept warm in my mouth down the shaft
& wished. With every hole that’s opened,
we fill, or hope something will come out of it.
2. The Whale Gospel
Whales have run aground off Cape Cod again.
What if God created them for us as metaphor?
How like us they are, beached and prostrate,
sand shifting under them with every wave
from heaven. Bloated and murder to move,
they slowly rot in the blurry sunshine, victims
of distress we can’t fathom. All we can think
to say is beware the giant squid, the seaquake,
beware sickness in your leaders. Beware the dark-
eyed shark, sonar’s ping and Japan’s traditional hunger.
The rusty bows of ghost ships
are singing through the water.
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