Marine Biology is Addictive Mark Carson


Marine Biology is Addictive

We bring the net aboard before first light
swinging high above us from the crane,
the deck lights blazing in the inky sky.
Cautiously the bosun hooks the cod-end  –
the mesh is finer than a pair of tights.
He trips the trap; a deep-sea bouillabaisse
slops in the waiting box.

These chaps are night-owls; silhouetted
by the photo-floods they cluster curly-headed
round the gimbal table in the vessel’s lab,
poking and peering at the catch.

It’s come a thousand metres up, up
from the black intensive pressure of the deep.
I hope for monsters, new to science….
they point out tiny thrilling rarities,
decapods, and salps and siphes*,
amphipods and ostracods –
and here’s a little angler-fish,
its headlight dimmed, and this
is a batfish, a flakelet of black,
the size of my thumbnail,
flapping its cape. Frilling and flexing
it swims, across the dark pool.

*siphes, or siphonophores such as the Portuguese Man-o-War. Sadly specimens are usually shredded by the net, and can rarely be identified save by their DNA.


Mark Carson was born in Belfast, educated in Dublin and Cambridge, and has made a career in offshore engineering. His poetry has been published in two pamphlets from Wayleave Press, ‘Hove-to is a State of Mind’ (2015) and ‘The Hoopoe’s Eye’ (2019).

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