Ode to an Ancient Shark

The world’s longest-living vertebrate. Older than Shakespeare they said. (Initially…)

Can we say she has a memory? What lives inside her instincts? What imprints and echoes?

“The Arctic as we know it” is over. Soon it will be ice free. The permafrost becomes impermanent. Waters warm. Gasses trapped inside glaciers escape into the atmosphere and the process accelerates.

Humans know how to accelerate. We do it without trying. History now exists at an inexorable speed. Beyond the brakes.

The world’s longest-living vertebrate does not know how things accelerate. She feels it. Oblivious to Shakespeare. Oblivious to the achievements and fears of a history’s weight, she is present as that history turns inward.

But she must feel as the water warms. Even if only by a few degrees. She notices there are fewer glaciers blocking the sunlight from peering through the waters. She goes hungrier with fewer seals, walrus and polar bears.

For life so long it cannot posit change to experience the one thing it never knew to anticipate.

For such deep time to rupture.

This post originally appeared at an earlier blog that I used to run. I have migrated it with its original post date.

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