Siple Dome

John Hoppenthaler


[Table of Contents]
[Editor's Note]

After three years of drilling, we reached
bedrock, two-thirds of a mile under
the humpbacked bulge of winter.
Each season, six fresh inches of ice

put us closer to Jesus on one side,
machinery to whatever else on the other.
Sometimes the scientists gave us trash
chips to splash in our gin & tonics—

you could hear bubbles of air & ash,
dust that's fifty thousand years old crack
& pop. There's so much pressure at bottom,
it squeezes a whole century into an inch-

thick wafer of time. Neanderthals roamed
Europe. Homo sapiens still hadn't left
African plains when that sliver of core
was last exposed to the pale, thin light.

Now pieces break off the Antarctic cap
at rapid rates & float out to sea. Coastal
cities could be swamped in just a few
centuries. Sure I was drunk, but one

afternoon after work had stopped, wind
sliced through the rigging, & I'd swear
I heard singing. It was the last day
before the end of what passes for summer.

We'd soon leave for home. I spit a nickel
I'd kept warm in my mouth down the shaft
& wished. With every hole that's opened,
we fill, or hope something will come out of it.



"Siple Dome" originally appeared in Tar River Poetry.


John Hoppenthaler's poetry has appeared in many literary journals and anthologies, including Ploughshares, The Southern Review, New Letters, The Bloomsbury Review, Tar River Poetry, Chelsea, Poet Lore, Connecticut Review, and September 11, 2001: American Writers Respond, edited by William Heyen. His first collection of poetry, Lives Of Water, is now available from Carnegie Mellon University Press through Cornell University Press Services, (800) 666-2211. The poetry editor of Kestrel, he is currently editing a collection of essays and interviews on the poetry of Jean Valentine, for which he has signed an advance contract with Wesleyan University Press. For updated news and a reading schedule, check out [his website].