In the hadal zone the pressure
that would crush our skulls is nothing
to these untended tadpoles, slick testicular
heads and fillet-tails, comets of white silk rippling
easily where the water comes down hard.
Pectoral fins make ribbed and pleated skirts
with which to curtsey and fan
the body round the meal again: pill-bugs
pulled with maws of blunt cusps
from a tin-coloured mackerel corpse.
In these trenches you can skimp on muscle
and bone, be buoyed by cheap fill
you make yourself, dress yourself
in rice-paper skin that flaunts
your guts, the blush lump of your brain.
You can shoulder a thousand atmospheres
and weather the squall of a late marine snow: specks
of shit and soot and cells dropping
down the water columns, flecks
of the dead innumerable.
This poem responds to these two scientific articles:
Gerringer, M.E., Linley, T.D., Jamieson, A.J., Goetze, E. & Drazen, J.C. 2017. Pseudoliparis swirei sp. nov.: A newly-discovered hadal snailfish (Scorpaeniformes: Liparidae) from the Mariana Trench. Zootaxa. 4358(1) pp 161-177. DOI:10.11646/zootaxa.4358.1.7.
Gerringer, M.E., Drazen, J.C., Linley, T.D., Summers, A.P., Jamieson, A.J. & Yancey, P.H. 2017.
Distribution, composition and functions of gelatinous tissues in deep-sea fishes. Royal Society Open Science. 4:171063. DOI:10.1098/rsos.171063.