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where oceans go to die | Dené Dryden

“Seismic profiling shows how the [Pacific] ocean plate — the thin ocean crust and as much as 100 kilometres of mantle lithosphere beneath — is plunging back down into the Earth. … It is this process of subduction that is one of the driving forces of plate tectonics: a pull rather than a push.”

— The Earth: A Very Short Introduction by Martin Redfern, 2003, Oxford University Press. pages 71, 73.

to be born again in Gaea’s blood, resurfaced,

like ocean sands scrubbed clean over a million

years, mashed into mantle under my own dry toes.


soothsayers Iapetus & Tethys knew their fates just as i.

subducted into crushing fire, histories scribed

in the sediments of life, remains, oxidized valleys;


all stripped from time’s sight, heated salt-water crying

for vaporous escape. the stretches of Gaea’s skin force

their basalt into the slowest gestation, re-emerging


as plumes, magma, the blood of the world.

like great Iapetus, like Tethys, Seaway, Rheic — must

i admit the coming erasure of my body, a recycled life?


a believer would call those oceans’ rest with perpetual death

faith, foresight in the realm of an unstoppable orbit.

no care for remembrance, the permanence of old things.


i defect — the stories of Iapetus are gone, mourned by

blasphemous beings like me, aching in our mortal brains.

it’s a guise of nature     (i confess i am scared)     but where’s the sanctity of the small ones,


the pieces of Gaea who fear the ultimate end?

you cannot refute that rebirth involves an end.

i confess that i want my bones to remain

in transformation     to ash    to grains     to carbon.

crushed in Her godly hug to be used again     for good

for evil     for the bubbles locked in Antarctica's hand.

but i can’t find death in absolute rest as Tethys did.

how can i face renewal knowing it hurts when you pull?

Dené Dryden is a creative writing student at Kansas State University who would quite love a job as a science, technology and/or health reporter after her May 2020 graduation. In addition to her journalistic work, Dené's reflective essay "How to Work From Home" is featured in the second edition of Live Ideas Undergraduate Primary Texts Journal, and her poem "Atomic Reconstruction of a Garden" is forthcoming in the Flint Hills Review.

Twitter: @denekdryden

Instagram: @ohdearitsdene


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