Deep Water Trawling

Jorie Graham

The blades like irises turning very fast to see you completely – steel-blue then red
where the cut occurs – the cut of you – they don’t want to know you they want to
own you – no – not own – we all mean to live to the end – am I human we don’t
know that – just because I have this way of transmitting – call it voice – a threat –
communal actually – the pelagic midwater nets like walls closing round us – starting
in the far distance where they just look to us like distance – distance coming
closer – hear it eliminating background – is all foreground – you in it – the only
ground – not even punishment – trawling-nets bycatch poison ghostfishing –
the coil of the listening along the very bottom – the nets weighed down with
ballast – raking the bottom looking for nothing – indiscriminate – there is nothing in
particular you want – you just want – you just want to close the
third dimension – to get something which is all – becomes all – once you are
indiscriminate – discards can reach 90% of the catch – am I – the habitat crushed
and flattened – net of your listening and my speaking we can no longer tell them
apart – the atmosphere between us turbid – no place to hide – no place to rest – you
need to rest – there is nature it is the rest – what is not hunting is illustration – not
regulated are you? – probing down to my greatest depths – 2000 metres and
more – despite complete darkness that surrounds me – despite my being in my
place under strong pressure – along with all my hundreds of species – detritus –
in extreme conditions – deepwater fish grow very slowly – very –
so have long life expectancy – late reproductive age – are particularly thus
vulnerable – it comes along the floor over the underwater mountains – scraping the
steep slopes – what is bycatch – hitting the wrong target – the wrong size – not
eaten – for which there is no market – banned – endangered – such as birds –
sometimes just too much – no more space on the boat – millions of tons thrown
back dead or wounded – the scars on the seabed – the mouth the size of a football
field – and if there is no one there there is still ghostfishing – nets abandoned in the
sea they continue through the centuries to catch – mammals fish shellfish – we die
of exhaustion or suffocation – the synthetic materials last forever

Ask us anything. How deep is the sea. You couldn’t go down

there. Pressure would crush you. Light disappears at 6000 feet. Ask

another question: Can you hear me? No. Who are you. I am.

Did you ever kill a fish. I was once but now I am

human. I have imagination. I want to love. I have self-interest. Things

are not me. Do you have another question. I am haunted but by what?

Human supremacy? The work of humiliation. The pungency of the pesticide.

What else? The hammer that comes down on the head. Knocks the eyes out.

I was very lucky. The end of the world had already occurred. How long ago

was that. I don’t know. It is not a function of knowledge. It is in a special sense

that the world ends. You have to keep living. You have to make it not become

waiting. Nothing is disturbingly visible. Only the outside continues but it

continues. So you have to find the way to make the inside

continue. Your entity is fragile. You are an object you own. At least

you were given it to own. You have to figure out what ownership

is. You thought you knew. You were wrong. It was wrong. There was

wrongness in the mix. It turns out you are a first impression. Years go

by. Imagine that. And there is still a speaker. There will always be a speaker. In the

hypoxic zones is almost no more oxygen→then there is→no more→oxygen→for real→
picture that says the speaker→ who are you→where are you→ going down into the dead
zones→water not water→ the deeper you go he says the→scarier it gets→because
there’s→nothing there→there are no→fish→no organisms→alive→ no→no life→ so it’s just
us→dead zones→bigger than the Sahara he says→ the largest lifeless spaces this side of the
moon→he says→she says→ who is this speaking to me→ I am the upwelling→I am the
disappearing→hold on→just a minute please→hold on→there is a call for you