“Diving In” by Jennifer Campbell

“Salt Run” by Sydney McKenna, Oil on canvas, 36″ x 36″

“Emerging research suggests that not one square mile of surface ocean anywhere on earth is free of plastic pollution.”  —Center for Biological Diversity

Diving to see coral and clownfish,
instead Snow White is submerged in trash—
a plastic bag becomes a jellyfish,
translucent floating shape shifter,
the spikes on a puffer fish jut out,
red and white striped straws stabbing its back.

Snow went to explore the sea life
and finds death, evidence
of a trillion crimes against purity.
The longer she lingers, the more
waste floats at her, disguised as fish.

After her first dive, she becomes
obsessed. The sea calls out to her
and she needs to see the unreal colors
of a right pink flipflop, neon applesauce pouch,
orange doll arm, fingers chewed with worry.
She finds it hard to return
to the surface, wonders how the mermaids
could have wasted so much time
with their useless song.


Jennifer Campbell is an English professor in Buffalo, NY, and a co-editor of Earth’s Daughters. She has two full-length poetry collections, Supposed to Love and Driving Straight Through, and was a finalist in both the 2017 Fairy Tale Review Poetry Contest and the 2014 River Styx International Poetry Contest. Several of her poems appear in journals such as Pinyon Review, Little Patuxent Review, The Healing Muse, Sow’s Ear, Comstock Review, Pennsylvania English, Saranac Review, Oyez Review, and Fugue, and her work is forthcoming in the AROHO Waves Anthology.

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