Sub-Terrain – Jennifer Highland

Beneath the rind on which we live and die.
Beneath the daily news.
Beneath the patchwork of familiar nations
there are continents drenched in liquid metal.

Beneath the Himalayas.
Beneath the canyons at the bottom of the sea.
Beneath the lithosphere,
the asthenosphere.
On the underbelly of the soft inner mantle
halfway to the center of the earth
landscapes hang upside down
above the planet’s molten pith.

Mountains surge toward the core
while chasms gape heavenward.
Rivers of iron churn through gullies.
Iron wind scours the slopes.
The sky in that country is all of metal.

In the center of the earth
a dark sun burns,
hard ball in a liquid sky,
hub of heat
that sets the layered world in motion:
Currents of rock flowing within rock.
The slow boiling of stone.
Lava bubbling surfacewards
as the seafloor drags toward the interior
and the inner continents
tug faintly on the outer.

How little we know
what governs us.
The inner world shifts,
sends us
a plume of diamonds.
Sends us


Jennifer Highland’s poetry has appeared in Watershed Review, Rappahannock Review, Cider Press Review, the anthologies Done Darkness and Chronicles of Eve, and elsewhere.  She practices osteopathy in central New Hampshire, where she also enjoys digging in the (mercifully not clay) dirt of her vegetable garden and hiking the White Mountains.

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