‘We were now very far from any touch of Mother Earth… We were the first living men to look out at the strange illumination: And it was stranger than any imagination could have conceived. It was of an undefinable translucent blue quite unlike anything I have ever seen in the upper world, and it excited our optic nerves in a most confusing manner…We kept thinking and calling it brilliant…the blueness of the blue, both outside and inside our sphere, seemed to pass materially through the eye into our very beings. This is all very unscientific; quite worthy of being jeered at by optician or physicist, but there it was…I have seen strange fluorescence, and ultra-violet illumination in the laboratories of physicists: I recall the weird effects of colour shifting through distant snow crystals on the high Himalayas, and I have been impressed by the eerie illumination, or lack of it, during a full eclipse of the sun. But this was beyond and outside all or any of these. I think we both experienced a wholly new kind of mental reception of colour impression. I felt I was dealing with something too different to be classified in usual terms…The blue which filled all space admitted no thought of other colours.’ William Beebe, Half Mile Down, (under the sea in a diving vessel), Harcourt Brace, 1934

‘Clues to life’s origins - Unexpected chemical reactions that may have played an important role in the origin of life have been found in deep sea hydrothermal vents The discovery was made by researchers at the Carnegie Institution's Geophysical Laboratory in the United States using high-pressure containers. They found that one of the necessary first steps for life to begin - the conversion of nitrogen to ammonia - may have occurred readily in the regions of the sea floor where superheated water emerges, carrying dissolved minerals. And, according to the results of the study published in the journal Nature, this suggests that life may have begun in the deep ocean - not at the Earth's surface, as many scientists believe. Around the deep sea vents can be a thriving community of living things such as clams, shrimps and bacteria that get their energy from the vent and not the sun. Sometimes the hot water is so discoloured the vents are referred to as "black smokers". Nitrogen is an essential ingredient of the molecular building blocks of life, amino acids and nucleic acids. But commonplace nitrogen - consisting of two bonded nitrogen atoms - is inert so unlikely to have given rise to life. Most scientists believe instead that ammonia - three atoms of hydrogen and one of nitrogen bonded together - was required to help life get started.’ BBC, 1998

’And the spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.’ Genesis 1, The Bible

‘Water covers 75% of the Earth's surface. The total amount of water on Earth remains about the same from one year to the next as it circulates between the oceans, land and atmosphere in a cycle of evaporation and precipitation. This hydrological cycle is fundamental to the functioning of the Earth as it recycles water, and has a role in modifying and regulating the Earth's climate. Nearly 98% of the Earth's water is in the oceans. Fresh water makes up less than 3% of water on earth, over two thirds of this is tied up in polar ice caps and glaciers. Fresh water lakes and rivers make up only 0.009% of water on Earth and ground water makes up 0.28%. Water is essential for all life forms. For example it makes up 60 to 70% by weight of all living organisms and is essential for photosynthesis. The viability of all life on Earth is determined chiefly by the presence of water, which is not evenly distributed on the planet. If it were, it would cover the entire surface to a depth of 3 km. In 1999 the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) reported that 200 scientists in 50 countries had identified water shortage as one of the two most worrying problems for the new millennium (the other was climate change).’ BBC, 2006

‘Water is a great menstruum of ‘life’. It makes life possible. It was part of the plot by which our planet engendered life. Every egg-cell is mostly water, and water is its first habitat. Water it turns to endless purposes…’ Sir Charles Sherrington, Physiologist, (1857-1952),  Man and His Nature, second edition, Cambridge University Press, 1951

‘Already before the close of the Devonian Age, the land had taken the place of the seas as the stage on which the great scenes of evolution were to be played. Algae and seaweed had already breathed out the free oxygen that made life on land possible. With this invisible atmospheric envelope of the earth ready to receive it, life came up from the sea.’ Jacqueta Hawkes, A Land, Cresset Press, 1951

‘And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind: and God saw that it was good.’ Genesis 1, The Bible

‘Then, whilst the sea at their coeval birth,/ Surge over surge, involv’d the shoreless earth;/ Nurs’d by warm sun-beams in primeval caves/ Organic Life began beneath the waves.’ Erasmus Darwin, 1731-1802, The Temple of Nature


In the totality of blue, I was -

before Heaven and Earth split

and new water cradled the spirit

of life which light had kindled -

like Prometheus bringing fire

from heaven as a holy script;

written in blue word,

such poems as build

hummingbirds from fish -

man from two cells rubbing.


Suspended in blue water -

or light, my organic weight

of fleshy molecules vanishes -

I remember the calmer sound

of blue; mind-word in water

that would produce me here.


Blue is the underlying colour -

amniotic nature of water, sky,

northern eye. Spectral purity,

amalgam of blue molecules,

swimming from space - heart

of carbon, into liquid; evolving

until spoiled - deconsecrated

violently from original shade;

so few skies, seas, waters,

maintaining blue holiness

seen on a summer day somewhere

where the body still thinks numbly,

worships in the cup of water -

sunken body emanating silver

oxygen - first gases mimicking,

bursting into sunlight; virgin air.

‘Life colonised the land more than a billion years ago, far earlier than previously thought. A geologist at the University of St Andrews, Scotland, Dr Tony Prave, has evidence that some ancient sandy surfaces were covered in a film of bacteria, a so-called biocrust. The rocks with the evidence for a biocrust are in the Torridon region of north-west Scotland, where they were laid down between 1,000 million and 543 million years ago. Ripples have been found that show the sand was being held together by a bacterial film. "This may be traces of the first creatures ever to live on the land," Dr Prave told BBC News Online.’ BBC News online, 2002

‘Except a man be born of water and of the spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.’ John 1, The Bible

‘Fungal spores, algae and bacteria that have been trapped in Antarctic ice for possibly 400,000 years have been discovered and some of them may be in suspended animation capable of coming back to life.’ BBC News, 1998

‘The researchers say that oil-forming bacteria may have been among the earliest inhabitants of our planet and that the sulphur-springs that formed the rocks studied by the researchers may have been the "cradle of life on Earth". The scientists are now looking for molecular fossils that might be present in the oil. Dr Birger Rasmussen, of the University of Western Australia, and Dr Roger Buick, of the University of Sydney, have published details of their work in the journal Geology. The tiny droplets of oil they found were extracted from rocks formed in an ancient sulphur spring that left behind huge deposits at a site in Australia. The minute droplets of oil are at least 250 million years older than similar droplets found by the same team in 1998. Before these discoveries, the oldest known oil had been dated as 1.5 billion years old. The researchers found oil preserved within fluid inclusions, microscopic-sized droplets of fluid trapped within mineral grains, similar to gas bubbles trapped in ice cubes. The inclusions measure less than a hundredth of a millimetre across and are detectable by their fluorescence when exposed to ultraviolet light. The hydrocarbons in the ancient oil must be a decay product of the living creatures that were around on earth 3.2 billion years ago. The oil leads scientists to speculate that oil generation early in Earth's history was widespread and that aquatic life at the dawn of evolution was more abundant than previously thought. A detailed analysis of the droplets could yield valuable information about the early biosphere, especially if they turn out to contain molecular fossils of the primordial organisms from which the oil was made. Sulphur springs, like the one that laid down the sulphur-rich rocks looked at in this study, may be "the cradle of life itself", according to the scientists.’ BBC, 2000

‘And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep.’ Genesis 1, The  Bible

‘In explaining their new theory Professors Martin and Michael Russell outline their problems with the existing hypotheses of cell evolution. Rather than the building blocks of life originating first and then forming themselves into cells they believe that cells came first. They say that the first cells were not living cells but inorganic ones made of iron sulphide and were formed not at the Earth's surface but in total darkness at the bottom of the oceans.’ BBC Science online, 2002

‘What gleams are these of heavenly blue?/ What air-drawn form appearing,/ What mystic fish, that, ghostlike, through/ The empty space is steering?’ James Clerk Maxwell, 1831-79, To the Chief Musician upon Nabla

My coagulation from water

My coagulation from water

cannot be comprehended -

how I wrote that first letter

in unconscious ecstasy -

clotting myself in liquid,

recording my chemicals;

answering at last to the black:

‘I…I...I…’, because I was - 

though I could not articulate this,

beyond being - a particularity -

lasting, adapting,

creating myself;

fueling my simple processes, run

by that power whereby my script

was possible, had come to be now,

among that great blue word of sea.

Now you have a mouth,

consciousness, identity,

to articulate how I am still you,

swimming in different elements;

but here I have stayed on,

still sublime under water -

with more whole worlds dreamt,

contained in one blue molecule.

‘Over 80% of marine pollution comes from land-based activities. A staggering amount of waste, much of which has only existed for the past 50 years or so, enters the oceans each year. From plastic bags to pesticides - most of the waste we produce on land eventually reaches the oceans, either through deliberate dumping or from run-off through drains and rivers... Oil spills cause huge damage to the marine environment - but in fact are responsible for only around 12% of the oil entering the seas each year. According to a study by the US National Research Council, 36% comes down drains and rivers as waste and runoff from cities and industry.’ WWF, 2006

‘Oceans are made up of several layers of water at different temperatures, and massive currents, both hot and cold, move through the oceans around the earth, many of them thousands of kilometres long. These currents have an enormous effect on the world's weather systems.’ BBC, 2006

‘Dead zones - Another significant impact of human activity on the marine environment is pollution. The most visible and familiar is oil pollution caused by tanker accidents. Yet despite the scale and visibility of such impacts, the total quantities of pollutants entering the sea from oil spills are dwarfed by those of pollutants introduced from other sources. These include domestic sewage, industrial discharges, urban and industrial run-off, accidents, spillage, explosions, sea dumping operations, mining, agricultural nutrients and pesticides, waste heat sources, and radioactive discharges…The impacts of pollution vary. Nutrient pollution from sewage discharges and agriculture can result in unsightly and possibly dangerous "blooms" of algae in coastal waters. As these blooms die and decay they use up the oxygen in the water. This has led, in some areas, to 'creeping dead zones' (CDZ), where oxygen dissolved in the water falls to levels unable to sustain marine life. Industrial pollution also contributes to these dead zones by discharging substances which, as they degrade, also use up the dissolved oxygen.’ Greenpeace, 2006

This year could see the biggest "dead zone" since records began form in the waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Scientists say conditions are right for the zone to exceed last summer's 6,662 sq miles (17,255 sq km). The dead zone is an area of water virtually devoid of oxygen which cannot support marine life. It is caused by nutrients such as fertilisers flowing into the Gulf, stimulating the growth of algae which absorbs the available oxygen. The volume of nutrients flowing down rivers such as the Mississippi into the Gulf has tripled over the last 50 years. The annual event has been blamed for shark attacks along the Gulf coast, as sharks, along with other highly mobile species, flee the inhospitable waters. Animals which cannot move simply die. "I am anticipating a historically large hypoxic (oxygen-deficient) zone this summer, because the nitrate loading this May, a critical month influencing the size of the area, was very high," said Eugene Turner from Louisiana State University. "The relatively high nitrate loading may be due to more intensive farming of more land, including crops used for biofuels, unique weather patterns, or changing farming practices." The nitrate load is so high that the dead zone may attain a size of 8,500 sq miles (22,015 sq km), almost double the average since 1990. However, an active storm season could change that forecast, as storms mix the seas, dispersing nutrients and algae and bringing in oxygenated water. Professor Turner is one of the scientists involved in modelling the dead zone, supported by the US National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa). The United Nations warns that dead zones are becoming more common globally as intensive agriculture spreads. Its 2003 Global Environment Outlook said that the number of seasonal hypoxic areas has doubled each decade since the 1960s. The UN believes the algal blooms are having a significant impact on commercially valuable fish stocks.’ BBC, 2007

‘In theory, there is a gravitational attraction between every drop of sea water and even the outermost star of the universe. In practice, however, the pull of the remote stars is so slight as to be obliterated in the vaster movements by which the ocean yields to the moon and the sun.’ Rachel Carson, The Sea Around Us, Oxford University Press, 1951; Granada, 1976

Dissolution of blue

Dissolution of blue, back to stars;

blue into silver, rocky light, gas -

taken back to original presence, element

among Earth’s possibilities – iridescence,

kingfisher wing and peacock neck,

her embroideries; molecules, force,

always at swim - liquid colour, energy,

symbol; as red is passion, blue is calm.

Not one star illuminates alone in darkness,

even forgotten by elements, unconnected –

breathe and the generous moisture of a tree

reaches there; the wet noises of one lover’s

kiss carry on sounding to Venus, as heavenly

body, enjoying her womanly connotations -

shivering the cold red atmosphere of Mars,

whose disappointed tears have all dried up.

The burning of anything on Earth is registered;

altering everything - carbon returning as fruit -

animals, from Nature’s recycling bin -

creative compost of four billion years;

altering, adapting under white and yellow

eyes of new sliver and liverish old Moon.

To each flaming tongue of Sun, she listens -

music of stars, vibration of space; one song

of a man, in desert sands, wailing of love -

poetic despair that will haunt the Universe.

‘Our eyes are blue for the same reason sky is, a scattering of reflectors: human eyes have only brown pigment…’ Ronald Johnson, Beam 4

‘Its whole self at its setting out not one ten-thousandth part the size of the eye-ball it sets out to produce. Indeed it will make two eyeballs built and finished to one standard so that the mind can read their two pictures as one. The magic in those juices goes by the chemical names, protein, sugar, fat, salts, water. Of them 80% is water.‘ Sir Charles Sherrington, Physiologist, (1857-1952), Man and His Nature, second edition, Cambridge University Press, 1951

‘Eventually, you’ll be called. It will be/ over water…It may not be/ ”ashore”, but water comes to mind, and/ fish… there’s something calling/ - your name, you think. And you hear it as if over water – Your real name, who you were/ all along. Hood-in-the-walking, Horn-from-the skull,/ Small-chain-of-original-protein...No/ I don’t want to turn from the pleasures…but we’ll be called, so must prepare; must even/ understand our hands on rocks, in sun, regress/ to lizards; even learn to love the light the way the nuclei/ of algae do, entire; even learn to love the dust and/ even the subatomic bones of the dust; and make/ the tarpan and aurochs, name them, know them eye to eye.’ Albert Goldbarth, Tarpan and Aurochs

In the Highlands, you can see straight up to heaven 

In the Highlands, you can see straight up to Heaven.

Nothing bars you but the Golden Eagle,

who belongs to both Earth and Heaven;

who takes our sadness and sings of it -

sings it out where it cannot exist,

in that total blue;

invention of blue, root of blue.

Who is a burning copper angel

flown perfectly by God – pinioned

by invisible hypotheses of balance.

He draws our eyes to Heaven,

the limitless eye of it -

but seeing a mouse’s human finger

tremble the bluebell neck -

hearing the ringing of those holy bells

that have rung out blue across the land

until every woodland shivers -

he fires to earth,

stealing the last red sunlight,

trailing Heaven in his talons -

Gabriel wings tucked like guns,

air and muscle petrified -

earth, still yawning, jumps;

feather and time explode -

Heaven and Earth collide

in gorse flames.

Morvern Bluebells

Blue breath and shy violet eye - seeming heavenly,

hanging above tough green stars opened from earth;

crept from another element, barely tissued in existence -

living translucent shades for holy light conducted straight

from earth’s bulbed lung; as white soul-light under black-

out skin leaks through our glassy eyes. There is no doubt -

Earth’s spring spirit becoming visible, like the silver morning

soul of a lake - a rising breath of nature expressed in flowers -

mile on fabulous mile, impossibility of number.

Such inundation of spirit, luminescent presence,

where the Highlands are an unspoiled altar -

for surely something sacred, old and sacred,

that can be seen and felt. As it seems up here,

where pristine air prickles with crystal atoms -

bride of Earth under the open blue smile of heaven;

evening enters queenly in ethereal mother-of-pearl -               

burning slowly gold before our very eyes,

into cold black ashes, riddled with stars -

that Jesus himself might come walking on blinding sea -

the ghost of Saint Columba clothed in a gull has returned

already in wings to his holy isles; in spiral white blessings.

My heart can hardly wait to plunge itself - now converted 

into ancient, blood-red, cousin rose, among blue spirit-

flowers; dazzling into bloody flames, raw love colour.

How we have caught this bluebell infection – etherised,

overwhelmed by violet perfume, such unearthly vapour,

purple sugared fumes - inhuman sweetness - goddess scent -

we are spilling from our skin as they have risen from ragged

nests of wet green stars. I see you have a halo, kingfisher

colour - your eyes are turning into two round cornflowers

bleeding blue aureoles, incandescent in gold crucible fields;

my blue wrist veins carry bluebell blood in Scottish snow -

transfused earth colour. Perceptibly we tinge, begin glowing

with similar light - genetically near enough still, to be violet.

At first, they had seemed an hallucination -

my blue iris crying into white like antique

Willow Pattern, smearing black glass pupils.

Came whispering, creeping like a blue ghost;

ghost of a god so old it had forgotten shape,

name - its own reason - only remembering

season, season, season; wandering among

elderly oak with burning bulged knuckles,

matronly hazel trees with a hundred skinny

children at their knees; yet more birth-nuts

bursting at their feet, pressing on right down

to the lush moss sleeve, pungent bog myrtle -

rocky cuff and lace, of jealous grey sea.

More and more space now succumbing,

dissolving to this new violet element

that is neither quite flesh nor light –

until dead Impressionists dream they are alive,

commissioned by God - we observe our gold

stubble fields of pale pink skin,

expecting purple nubs, sprung.

Wind visits this living church of nature

like a minister; ringing the bells, horse-

tossing necks - but we can’t hear their sound;

though everything else - even to the smallest

bird and insect - shivers and dances

to the same tune; hears this original

music, where we have bred selective deafness,

concrete genetic distance to muffle our noises.

The trembling bluebells are maidenly - swan-neck

shyness; all petticoats, frilly skirts, girlish bonnets,

bows - and of cool earth, though drawn into air,

will not cup sun, have only that Princess Diana

sideways look if you scoop, turn up their heads

in your hand; but truly feminine are tough, will

not be barred - race even the pirate seahorse bracken

setting sail once more on the balding green mountain.

Determined as earth, her motherly spirit they express;

in this blue writing they will prove her here, still safe

amid her suffering, diminuition, erosion, elsewhere.

Today, we could resist no longer - though the path

was taken too; now floral lava, so extremely blue -

simmering blue and violet stream in shifting violet-

blue sea - from our foot’s crush, as grapes give up

their sugar-souls to wine, purple blood-smell rose -

intoxicating incense, breathable drug; and we lost

our usual solid selves in dissolution of blue - there

was no death in our passage; elements had merged,

boundaries blown by glory - we could as well have

walked on sea or sky as on this shifting spirit-floor

of flowers; we became ourselves holy – honouring

ourselves, celebrated in the firmament of blue;

so stripped to our fundamental light, and love. 

‘Frozen seawater has given us a crucial clue for making artificial joints and bones that our bodies won’t reject. Artificial joints are currently made from metal alloys and ceramics that often cause inflammation and rejection, but scientists at the Berkeley Laboratory, in California, say that they are developing artificial bone that is so similar to natural structures that it will mesh with human tissue. Science has long wanted to copy one of the toughest bony forms in nature, nacre, which is found in oyster shells. No one knew how to mimic its minutely layered form. But the Berkeley team noticed that when seawater freezes it forms similarmicroscopic layers by trapping salt impurities between its crystals. They report in Science that when they froze human bone mineral in a solution of water, the same strong layered structure appeared. The faster they froze it, the bonier it got.’ Times newspaper, UK, 2006



mother-of-pearl pinning

my dislocated hips,

broken arm, ankle -

my skull is one abalone shell

shimmering through my skin,

inhabited by the brain creature -

when I cry, my tears are pearls.

Note from the author
exploring the project

    Gene Zoo
    Gene Garden
    Earth Poems
        Mass Extinction
        Nature & Science notes
        Goddess Visions

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