I. Shipyard Point, Mystic, Connecticut. Soft wet wood, some kind of pine, stacked as lumber outside the carpenter’s shop. Sky swimming, reflected in small pools in the wood grain. Light rain glazing everything. The sun is an impression, a hazy glow through translucent evening clouds, sticking loosely to the sides of old buildings. Everything wooden waits in the sea-born mist.
II. SUBMERGE (v.)
Merge (v.): to cause to coalesce or combine; to blend; to unite gradually as to blur the individuality or individual identity of; to be swallowed up
Sub- (prefix): under, below, beneath
Submerge (v.): to conceal or obscure
under a layer of water; to sink or
under the surface;
to disappear from sight;
to undergo submission
III. Shipyard, again. Only this time, in the night, walking out past the Point. On the dock, we deploy a sensor to track temperature, salinity, and other oceanographic measurements in the river. Sometimes, shrimp and small fish turn this sensor, this bottle full of numbers, into their home. I look across the river and see houses lit up from the outside, the indoor lamps all shut for bed. In one yard, there is a tree, lit by lawn lights and shadowed by itself.
IV. A summary of ecology class, focused on the deep, deep sea: Every time a submarine goes down, we find new life; or rather, life that has been existing—and fighting, eating, color-throbbing—all along, so that it is not new to itself, but simply, new to us. Life that has been here, wherever here is, for a long time. Life that lives without us knowing. Life that adapts and evolves. We come across this life in the darkest part of the world. The part of the world with the unfamiliar lights. The living lights. The symbiotic lights. I wonder what will happen if we ever find all the deep-sea lights. What will happen if we name all of their bearers? How long we will give them before we shut them off?
V. Epistellar Body (n.): literally, “skin-stars;” describes a small photo-transmitting organ in some cephalopods that is thought to produce light and color at depths celestial stars cannot reach. This organ is likely vestigial.
Marine Snow (n.): the unending fall of organic matter from surface water layers to the deep sea. Essential in pumping energy from the light-filled photic zone down to the un-solar depths.
Pillow Lava (n.): round, puffy masses of rock that form following the subaqueous extrusion of lava. People study these structures, as well as the spaces between them.
Counterillumination (n.): a method of active camouflage utilized by some marine animals. Organisms use bioluminescence on their undersides to match the wavelength of light coming from above and seem to disappear when viewed from below.