Below is a previous version of the poem. Coming back to it after some time away, I realized that the lines needed some space—that they required, in fact, more of a Winogradsky column “look,” which is tubular and layered. The visual definition of such a column is always sectional and kind of 3D, so I broke the lines and stanzas to resemble the sections. I couldn’t do much about the 3D part. Still, it made a huge difference to my eyes. I think this is one instance where just changing the line and stanza breaks to make a poem more grounded and concrete really intuits the way you read it and creates a more powerful emotional effect overall.



Mare Internum: The Secret World Inside You


One huge Winogradsky column,

the pond digests a diverse mix,

organized into clear layers

based on their energy sources:

Afghanistan, Eritrea, Iraq, Nigeria.

With a few cups of mud and some

other simple materials, out of direct

sunlight, a lush garden of migrants

colonizes—sulfur-eating bacteria

at the bottom; carbon-eating ones

in the middle; and photosynthesizing

microbes at the top—a self-sustaining

ecosystem of distinct, experimental parts.



This poem was found from the article, “Grow a Bacterial Zoo in a Bottle,” by Steph Yin, Popular Science, March 24, 2016.