Sunday, 26 October 2008

Ghost Nets

A few days ago I read Donovan Hohn's wonderful essay, Moby-Duck: Or, the Synthetic Wilderness of Childhood.

In it, he talks about high-sea drift nets that were banned by the UN in 1992.
They were nets with a mesh size of about four inches, but they were, like, fifty miles long. The Japanese would sit there and interweave these for fifty miles. There were something like a thousand drift nets being used every night in the 1980s, and if you do the math they were filtering all the water in the upper fifty feet every year. Well, they were catching all the large animals, and it clearly could not go on.
Despite the UN's moratorium on the them, nearly half of these ghost nets are still out there, abandoned.
What happens is, the nets keep catching animals, and then the animals die, and then after a while, the nets get old, and they roll up on a coral reef, and the waves roll it along like a big avalanche ball, killing everything in its path.

I read the article three days ago on the morning I visited my grandmother, who has Alzheimer's. Occasionally she makes sense, but for the most part she talks as though she's reciting a Gertrude Stein poem.

When she does make sense, she doesn't really make sense. Her mouth forms words that remind me of things she used to say, might have said, could have said, would have said. I imagine her consciousness like a ghost net, bobbing willy nilly on forgotten seas.

I charter a little row boat and paddle out into her depths until I reach such an expanse of netting. Amongst all the flotsam debris I find solid remembrances. 

On closer inspection, once I have returned to shore, I am unable to determine if what I have netted are my memories of her, weathered by months of deterioration, or her memories of me, suffocated by the barnacles of her illness.

1 comment:

farmdoc said...

One of your best posts, LOM. Beautifully and eloquently put. xx