Bill of Lading

by Richard Kenney

Esquimault Graving Yard. Immense placental
Facility labors. Lubbers at loose ends until

Midnight. The great, rail-run, mantid crane
Wipes sky, plucks up the ROPOS submersible.
Belling; cable-whine; sky-wipe. The vessel groans
Against the wharf. Below, empty water-sample

Bottles chatter a little on a steel bench.
At 2 degrees C in a berth below in the black benthos

Of the napping oceanographer's dream, crimson
Tubeworms, bacterial mansions, impossible basalt
Spires outgassing. Archaeozoan something-or-others. Drumskin
Lithospheres slipping on their puddings, far from the Esquimault

Graving Yard, in a watery, igneous elsewhere, in a sherbet
Of ammonia, maybe, on the second moon of Jupiter.

Rick Kenney is Professor of English at the University of Washington. He wrote this poem after a cruise on the Thompson in August 2004.