arctic epitaph


In polar waters of midnight sun,
     their underwater voices clamor,
tapioca-thick in August ice.
     The sequestered men, blue fingertips

all desperation, scrawl final words, 
     claw at the curved walls of the Kursk, 
invincible metal tomb. 
     Barents Sea inhabitants, alarmed

anemones, urchins and sea squirts 
     stare in silence at the groaning, 
clanking immensity in their midst. 
     On the surface of the frozen ocean,

gulls and terns wail a ruby rhapsody.
     The Russians, sluggish and secretive,
tell inept lies in whirlpool circles
     while time, breathtakingly, slips away.

In memory of the Russian submarine, The Kursk, sunk in the Barents Sea 12 August 2000

~ October 2, 2000