An Undersea Journey

sea
U.S. National Archives

Let us go on an undersea journey. For I think now that you are ready. Together, the two of us, for lo these many weeks — together we have trained in the different uses of the bathysphere. We have trained in Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparati. In naming the different types of sponges. In naming coral. How many different types of blowfish can you currently name? I can name ten. And it was Thomas Jefferson who invented the bathysphere I think, or maybe that was the Lazy Susan, or maybe, neither one of those are true. Anyway.

Anyway! An undersea journey. Are you ready — let us go! Pack your swim trunks, pack your scuba gear. “…Should I pack my flippy-floppy things?” you say. Listen to me. If you keep referring to those as the “flippy-floppy things,” then our mission is headed for disaster; and surely the two of us will drown.

Do you know how much is down there, down there beneath the sea? So much; so very much. A whole world down there: bubbles, ferns, creatures that are like fans, heaps of jade, underground volcanoes, reefs with seahorses ascendant. A seahorse can swim backwards and upside-down, helicopter-like. The male seahorses houses the baby seahorse in its sort of womb, which is a very sensitive and tasteful thing for the male seahorse to do. …There are also barnacles. Sea cucumbers.

Are you ready yet, are you prepared. I feel ready.

There is a whole world down there, but then, there is also a whole world up here as well; the two worlds undiscerning and heedless of each other; clouds of mystery; twin clouds of unknowing, as a female poet once wrote.

When a whale breaches the surface for a second, to breathe, to renew, what does he think?

What are those white things that might be called clouds? Does he think this?

The air which might perhaps be called air. The air is crisp. Does he think this?

Nasty; do not like. Does he think this?

The blue up here is paler blue than the blue down there, but still, mostly most blues are mostly blue. Does he think, etc.?

How shall we explain the world up here to the creatures down there, and vice-versa. If you leapt into one of them unknowing, what a shock! Air, rocks, mountains, ouch. Sharks, reefs, non-air, ouch. How can we explain them to one another, so different and separated by nothing, nothing — by a film of nothing far lighter and nothing-ier than the film that surrounds a soap bubble. Are you ready yet? Then let us go.

Did you ever own a goldfish? One you won at a school fair, maybe; that ping-pong ball game, with the fishbowls, and the slick smile of the rented carny as he hands over your fish in a plastic sandwich bag. And then what happened. The goldfish died, didn’t he.

…And how did your goldfish die? Did he expire in the bowl. Or did he, maybe, jump out of his bowl. What a way to die! Such courage, courage and desire for the unknown. When a goldfish flops there, flops out onto the kitchen counter, jumping over the rim of its Wal-Mart bubble bowl, what does he think? He sits there and his body flexes, and he thinks — he is flexing like a man doing sit-ups, but he is also asphyxiating.

What does he think to himself, flopping there on the evil beige of the kitchen counter? Maybe thirty seconds of life yet to go. What does he think? Here are a couple of possibilities:

–Well; I had a good run while it lasted, hack, cough.

–Almost made it to the sink; sputter, die.

–Why o god? O merciless Jehovah, why?

–I am almosting it, cough, wheeze.

Better to have jumped and lost than ne’er to have fuck, wheeze, death.

Oh well. Nada y pues nada y nada y pues nada. Our nada who art in nada, nada be thy name thy kingdom nada thy will be nada in nada, argh, shit.

–…Fuck it?

…Or this. Maybe he thinks this. So much oxygen, more oxygen than ever before, and light, light unimaginable, florescent light, rushing to his brain. Does he think; failure, the wrong world. Or does he think, with the hum of the refrigerator and the glow of the lights, and everything in perfect order, the level of the counter immaculate, not grainy and pebble-ly like the bottom of the bowl or the sea, surrounded by all this, by the hum of the lights, does he think — does he think for one pure second that his heaven has finally arrived?

…So very much to think about. And look at us; the two of us; terrible. We are not even in the water yet.

And are you ready yet? Then let us go. TC mark

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