Used to be, we were all fish. We ate everything that fit in our mouths and moved like it was still alive. Didnt matter what it was. I ate an earring once, and it’s still in there, cutting at my stomach lining. I wear the hooks and lures with pride. I got the worm – and the worm did not get me. My boss wants me to remove the hooks because it looks unprofessional, but I want to remember the old ways when we were fish. I remember swimming in an ocean so deep and wide it was everything that existed. There was no such thing as rock. The closest we had were mollusks and barnacles stuck on bellies that had gotten too big and slow. Sun was nothing. The water was our warmth. We pushed ever onward, mute with sputtering mouths, while the whistles of the whales were our sparrows and parakeets and pagers and cellphones. We were fish, in flashing silver swimming always. We made big schools because back then traffic jams kept you safe and we were grateful to be packed together like that, pooping in each others faces. It was a good life when you didn’t know any better.
I’m not like them. I remember exactly what happened when we were fish. We swam into swirling matrimonial beds of softest kelp and whisking grasses. We spawned en masse and anonymously like some kind of primordial shadow of Internet pornography. We left the babes behind because we were fish and we had to swim to live, to find food and good water, chasing the calls of the whales who had gone on ahead. Years later these fish would find us – all of us. It takes a village to raise a fish. No one knows who is responsible. We are all equally responsible for all of them. The young ones looked at us with our huge, muscular, shimmering tails, and our hook badges of honor and our empty-eyed pride in being fish who swim in schools and eat anything and keep swimming. The young ones, some of them joined us proudly. Some of them yelled at us for abandoning to crabs and terms. The angry ones swam off.
We were fish. We weren’t supposed to care. But, then, some of us did.