national anthology of the best undergraduate writing 2014

Shark Fishing on Acid

Danny Macdonald  • 
Tufts University

there are cliffs underwater
and if you hold a rock you can sink off of them
it is like intentional drowning
but you can let go before you get to the bottom

the sharks are on the bottom
like metal detectors a few inches above the sand
on a radar screen it would look like

bloop bloop
bloopbloop bloop   bloop bloop

most people who drown are old
they drown in puddles on sidewalks or in grass

when I am nervous
water seems dangerous and like an emerald manta ray

when we were young we put mud on our faces
and said something about iron in the mud
as if the mud were full of dead, metallic fish

there was a noise called “the bloop”
the loudest noise recorded underwater
you thought it was a leviathan
or an animal or a monster

later they said it was the earth breathing
ocean vents and mud and air

you cried when you found out
then named a fish “Cthulhu” and stopped caring

it is dark at the bottom
so nobody knows, anyways

it was a late winter and there were no sharks
but it could have been any number of ways

if you see a manta ray on the horizon
I drowned looking for emerald fish