Microfauna

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All tensed up as one muscle that explodes when a body hits the seabed. Flock from sand and any flesh that is left yields to subatomic teeth. Slip inside bones and suck out marrow like cane sugar. Separate skull from neck, set it upright, and move on. I’ve been learning about crypt fish. They process each body in this way; it is not worshipped, but abandoned clean and perfect. In the rich, alluvial soil at the bottom of the ocean they give themselves over to this work, leaving behind china-white lines of heads and necks in a still parade.

I went down there to see them myself. In the city where I live we are reduced to units in an industrial process – one with unpleasant by-products, like stress and boredom, which have to be softly and efficiently ducted away. But I entered the sea as a whole human being.

Dad was up top operating the oxygen.

‘Please, Dad,’ I said, when I surfaced. ‘Shrink me down and make me one of them. I want to be discovered.’