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  • Writer's pictureWriters In The Mountains

The Scavenging by Ren van Meenen

Updated: Feb 15, 2023

When a whale dies, her carcass descends to the ocean floor.

I imagine this great creature in her last living moments, eyes rolling back in her enormous head, the last air exhaled from her massive lungs making bubbles large enough to hold a sun.

This is called whale fall.

I know I won’t go down spinning like a whale, twisting and turning with the tide, buoyant to nearly the end. And my body, though perhaps bigger than it once was, will not feed the brown earth quite like the whale offers herself to so many creatures of the deep blue sea.

A deep green burial is what I want. I want everyone to know I choose this. No box, no urn, no fire or chemical infusion—just a shroud, the earth, and what’s left of me, already starting to wither.

I see her body as it twirls and circles, falling downward, head and fore flippers stretched up toward the surface, like a ballerina pirouetting in reverse. But this dance ends in a darkness we cannot see, with a soft thud on the ocean floor that no human has ever heard.

I imagine when I land, there will be a slight tremor, one last utterance—just a whisper through the dirt, letting the little ones who can feel the dead, who feed on the dead, know I am here.

From Mini-Essays and Short Stories with Jane Seitel, Creative Non-Fiction with Anique Taylor, and The Zen of Revision classes with Melissa Holbrook-Pierson

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