July 20, 2023
On 23 January 1960, the Trieste dove to a record depth of 35,797 feet to reach the bottom of Challenger Deep, the deepest known part of Earth’s seabed.
four hours and forty-seven minutes
is a long time to focus on how fragile our world is,
as you descend to the bottom of the earth.
and when one outer window pane cracks… there is a lifetime
between knowing something is wrong, feeling the ship
shake, and realizing that moment isn’t when you die.
you’re already prepared for death, though,
since you’re set on making history. no matter how many
calculations are done or reassurances are made
or precautions are put in place, being the first person
to attempt something so dangerous means death
will always be a possibility. there are no survivors
to tell you how to do it right. you don’t know how
to imagine your death, if more of those windows
cracked. what would be the final cause–
the cold, the water, the pressure, something unexpected?
your body will be irretrievable. your loved ones
will have nothing to bury or burn. they are prepared
for this, too.
but then, nearly six-thousand feet later,
you reach the ocean floor. you stay long enough to realize
you can communicate with the surface again, even though
the seven-second delay means if something killed you here,
you’d be dead for a few heartbeats before the commanders knew.
which is better: them knowing for certain you died
because the comms were cut short, or them having to assume
when the ship doesn’t reemerge from the water? you make history
whether you live or die, because no one else has attempted this.
you’re just lucky you’re around to see it.
by Jade Driscoll
Jade Driscoll (she/her) is a Michigan-based poet with a master's in creative writing from Central Michigan University. Her work has previously appeared in Atlas and Alice, Plainsongs, Remington Review, and more. When she’s not writing, Jade enjoys reading, listening to music, learning Korean, and walking in local parks. You can find her online @thepoetjade.