I touched the tail fin of a dead dolphin

I touched the tail fin of a dead dolphin.

Glossy black, save for the eerie whitish structure showing in spots from underneath the leathery skin, scrubbed clean off its entire bloody snout, lower jaw, and in strange, serial scars all down along its side… all lined up and spaced out rather evenly… oddly reminding me of some white clouds I once saw lined up against a purple sky over the sea in Dubrovnik…

How did this being die? How did he end up here… on this cold night shore, a small surf town in unlikely Korea…? How did it come to be so scarred? Did it struggle against the sand and waves? Or did it pass onto death long before it passed onto land? What could have scraped away such immense, such cruel patches of his black leather skin… and why…?

I cannot help, when I crouch close to this departed sea mammal, peer into his face, eyes closed, lips slightly open, revealing smooth, white teeth, the still-red blood drying in the edges of each white wound, I cannot help but to think of a wild terror, of a searing pain, of a desperate battle for life….

Foaming white waves rush in all around us in the black night, and all around the black dolphin. I hope the waves will take him with them… back to home… back to the sea… back to the treacherous, perilous, worse, indifferent sea….

But he is not carried back home. His body lists slightly into the seawater as it rushes back out to the dark vastness, drawing back some of the surrounding sand… but the body lies there still.

I wonder for a moment if I should enlist my friend to help me gently push him into the tide, to send him back to where—I cannot help but to think—he had so desperately fought, and lost, to return to. In the end, however, I could not bring myself to be so bold as to dare make that heavy decision, to even propose that I make that grave, almost unearthly, decision, seems too brazen, even insolent.

Instead, we just walk quietly along the midnight beach, back to our hostel. She to get some ice cream, I to get back to my Macbook Air and my nightly writing.

Will the lost dolphin find its way back to its water home, and find a dolphin’s burial there? Or will the sea never take him back? Will the local experts take up its body for processing, whatever processing it may be that such forsaken bodies undergo?

We leave that decision to the sea. The body lies there still.

 

 le jeudi 15 septembre 2016 / Songjeong, Busan, South Korea

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