After reading Adrienne Rich’s poem Diving into the Wreck I was immediately drawn to the vulnerability of diving into an ocean. My skin tingles as I recall diving in the Caribbean surrounded by the tepid water and sinking into the depths. Similarly, I ran into a shipwreck and was surrounded by murky obscurity with the unknown staring back at me. When someone is diving into darkness all things seem equal. No one is stronger or weaker than the other person. In the fourth stanza, the narrator says:
First, the air is blue, and then
it is bluer and then green and then
black I am blacking out
The ocean is an abyss where one can feel universally free and escape the oppression that they are receiving from the world above. As one sinks lower and lower the weight of oppression is lifted. All souls are equal. Rich uses darkness as a spiritually uplifting message versus how the Bible refers to it as death. The narrator is no longer afraid of being alone in an underworld and believes the domain of darkness creates equality.
In the sixth stanza, the narrator says
I came to explore the wreck.
The words are purposes.
The words are maps.
I came to see the damage that was done.
The narrator “came to explore the wreck” which perhaps is a metaphor for human suffering. Shipwrecks usually contain human suffering and as a diver explores this suffering it is the words and the maps that reveal the sadness. The wreck is left to be remembered and available to be revisited again.