Aphelion Issue 272, Volume 26
May 2022
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First Known Encounter in the Mariana Trench

by Daniel R. Jones

I dreamt of Mariana - dark and voluptious,
deep and cavernous as any sky.

While others ponder the depths of the cosmos
I probe the enigma of the watery-world,
content spelunking enclaves unknown.

How is it that the Romans of antiquity
knew inherently the link between sea and space,
venerating Neptune of the ocean,
exalting him to his planetary prestige?

Easy to imagine my descent of the trench
was an inverted liftoff into the sky: my cast-aluminum diving suit
bearing semblance to the space suits
and glass bowled visages of my valkyrian counterparts.

Down, down I plummeted,
past brittle stars
and gargantuan isopods,
past sea-worm tendrils
and sea-angels with an
ethereal allure
most mercurial.
To the very depths of the
Trench I tumbled, 'til
at long last I struck the seabed - blacker than pitch,
too dark for even a jelly's cool, bioluminescent glow.

It was there, I glimpsed it: spectral and glimmering.
Colors of unknown origin danced across
a figure - opalescent and otherworldly,
celestial in form, but bestial in its movement, it advanced,
a myriad of violet eyes flickering open and shut.

Two tugs to my tether and I was rising.
Lifted! the spring-action cable was reeling me upward,
rising 'til I could no longer see the creature
still rising, 'til I could no longer feel its presence.

Safe in my airlock, back aboard my submarine.
Nothing on Sonar. What did I see?
Who's to say whether the unearthly entity
was before my eyes,
or behind them?

© 2016 Daniel R. Jones

Daniel Jones is a writer from Indianapolis, IN. He's currently an MFA candidate at Lindenwood University. Previously, he's had work published in the South Bend Tribune, In the Bend, Spill Words Press, Time of Singing, and he won an award for best poem in the 2013 edition of Bethel College's Crossings.

Find more by Daniel R. Jones in the Author Index.

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