Saturday, July 15, 2017

The Monkey Rope

"Just so, from the ship’s steep side, did I hold Queequeg down there in the sea, by what is technically called in the fishery a monkey-rope, attached to a strong strip of canvas belted round his waist. "
-Herman Melville: Moby-Dick Chapter 72 "The Monkey Rope."

Let me down.

Is it a request or a description? Down here, walking on this wet and bloody treadmill, I don't really have time to think about it. I could put the word "Never" in front. That would make it a request and I would have to count on you.

The line seems so thin, but it is strong. But I know that at any moment, a swell, a shifting of the bulk, something wrong in other words, and I could fall into the water and be bait for sharks. Or you could fumble. Or simply let go.

They cut the fat and skin from this creature we have killed. I have to keep my wits sharper than the spades or I will lose a toe or foot.

Why in the hell am I down here? In case anything goes wrong? If the hook comes free of the skin my job is to put it back.

The sharks snap at my heels and each other. I have no time for lengthy metaphors of comparison to us, but they seem transported beyond gluttony and lust in the orgy of blood that flows out from the carcass. The resemblance lodges in my gut, waiting for a dream in a swinging hammock. What big teeth you have...

The ocean does not let me down. It lets me see just how small I am. Out here, abandonment means I am given up to the sublime and therefore madness just before I am eaten.


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