This poem was first published in the National Federation of State Poetry Societies’ 2014 prize anthology Encore. I hope you enjoy!
The Hadal Zone
We humans dabble in the waves lanced with sunlight,
rarely swimming down to the layer known
as the twilight zone, where creatures
fast and active dart beneath us.
Under that is the midnight zone, where
eyeless things swim slow and slimy circles,
where prey is lured rather than hunted, where
those who kill feel nothing – not even joy.
Lower even than this distant level
lies the abyssal zone, a cold place
of perpetual darkness,
spotted only by those things
who must make their own glow.
They should be the bottom.
Yet, in places, the bottom
drops out, and trenches deeper
than inverted mountains
form an unknowable underworld
of impossible, alien things –
hiding those who live
below the abyss.
© Annie Neugebauer, 2014.
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