Thursday, February 12, 2015

September - Yuba River

Dispatches from Nowhere #6 - The Shark and The Net

“… recently off Australia's coast ... a fishing trawler's net snagged a frilled shark...

… ‘The head on it was like something out of a horror movie. It was quite horrific looking’ …

… Relatively little is known about the frilled shark, whose name refers to its six pairs of gills. The animals are believed to live at depths of between several hundred and several thousand feet. They've rarely been seen in their natural environment, and a rare living specimen, caught in Japan in 2007, died soon after it was put in a large seawater pool...

… nearly all of the rare animal's closest relatives are long extinct …”

‒ Bill Chappell
NPR News
January 21st, 2015


I speak this way because it is how you can hear me.

There is only this world, this universe, all its black depths.

Soon I will dissolve – my particles will be in the sea, the land. They will not cease to mourn.


For a long time I was in that safe darkness, depth above and below. The unceasing tides that washed over me.

I knew below by the scent: stone, fetid dust, sulphur, cold and food.

I knew above by barbs of light lancing the green-black.

I knew the surge of tide and storm. I knew the moon by its touch not its sight.

I knew space.

I knew loneliness. Because there are few like me now. Those that were have passed out of all memory. The few of us know the horror of rareness. We wane and wane.


Now more horrific: I have heard the grating wreckage of coral, I have heard the scream of the whale, the fearful dart of the tuna, who had few fears before. I have heard screaming, and worse I have heard the nets surge toward the surface like a sick tide and leave behind silence.

There is always the hive-like drone that runs through the water, so constant we seem to forget it. It dulls my skin, it makes me unaware. This is perhaps why I was caught in the net. Or perhaps it is that nothing can escape the net, no matter how old, or rare.


I know this has happened before – it is a surety in my blood. My family has seen the sea silent and cold, hot and acid and algal. This has happened before. It is not the same as living to feel it.

Perhaps this is why I was caught in the net, why I swim this glass cage. No longer to feel what is happening so acutely.


There is no openness here, yet a choking lightness, none of the comforting pressure holding a body, none of the cool dark. Above there is the bright light and then the emptiness of air and beyond of space – thin, lonely.

And there is you. I heard your word ‘horror,’ in the click of your camera, the tone of your voice. Horror and nightmare, you speak this of me. You hive of apes, you clever fleshy virus, you who strip land to bone, kill the sea.

One day you will be rare too, you horror. Someday you will speak into a vastness, an abyssal blackness, and nothing will answer.

I leave you with this.