Biosphere 2: One Poem by Arianne Zwartjes

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

So much light, this silence 

Foam on the water spins out in a messy spiral. The rocks here are furred in green-brown algae, ugly, the white sand only showing where volunteers came and cleaned it several weeks ago, a thin fur of algae already climbing back over.

There is a silence at the center of everything, Marie Howe writes.

Try to find the silence inside this glass dome, beneath the rhythmic roar of the wave machine, the birdcall-like squeak that precedes it each time, the sound of the breeze. Up close it conjures a heavy-breathing monster, crouched beneath the metal pipes.

Within three weeks of closing the first crew in, all the honeybees were dead. Glass blocks UV light. Honeybees navigate by its waves. To speak of that stillness. To see you, and still speak, writes Sobin.

This calm high center, the light. The green girders, the sunshine streaming in geometric patterns to the floor. Up above, sloping soil, rows of Dixie cups; up above, triangled glass panes look out at the sky. This is the way silence feels.

Loneliness is solitude with a problem, writes Maggie Nelson. Could they find solitude in this place that already, after two days here, feels small? I know they could find loneliness.

Juliana Spahr writes,

We are arrows of unloving lostness getting
            stuck even while never hitting the

I wonder if it ever felt like freedom to live here.

Here, the chambering of hope. Here, glass-domed urgency, Buckminster-Fuller-visions, a world spiraling beyond itself, a grandiose, Quixotic dream.


In the stillness above me water falls on soil, slowly, or soil slowly dries.




After receiving her MFA in Poetry at the University of Arizona and teaching English and creative writing there for six years, Arianne Zwartjes is now in northern New Mexico serving as the director of the wilderness program at the United World College. She won the 2011 Gulf Coast Prize in Nonfiction, and her poetry and prose have appeared in various other places. The University of Iowa Press published her book of lyric nonfiction, Detailing Trauma: A Poetic Anatomy, in the fall of 2012. Her previous works include Disem(body), The Surfacing of Excess, and (Stitched) A Surface Opens: Essays.

Read poetry by Arianne Zwartjes appearing in

Photo of the rainforest habitat at Biosphere 2 by Eric Magrane. is the world’s first online journal of place, publishing a rich mix of literature, art, commentary, and design since 1998.