25 April 2008

The Man in the Gray Suit

A swimmer in San Diego was killed by a shark this morning. What a horrible way to die, and something I try hard not to think about while I'm out on the water. From The Man in the Pale Gray Suit by Kalikiano Kalei:

...What are the chances that my dangling arms and splayed out legs
Will end up as a side dish for some ancient, primordial behemoth
That nature has spent 500,000 years quietly perfecting, evolving
The most perfect killing machine ever to swim the shadowed deep?
I am no gambler by inclination, least of all to wager with the sea....

I know quite well it is not a wise idea to be by myself out here,
And yet the sublime beauty of the endless, crashing, coursing waves
Forces me to relax my guard, allay my unreasoned anxieties…until I see
The fin that is 50 yards from me, in a trough between the waves,
Its black scalpel of remorseless precision slicing a fluidic groove....

Update: It just amazes me to read that some San Diego beaches are still closed and a surf competition miles north was "canceled because of safety concerns." Hello, people, there are always sharks in the ocean. They live there. This particular one could be well on her way to Santa Cruz by now. Or maybe her big brother is lurking about, ready to snatch another triathlete, or surfer, or kayaker, next week, or next month. Who knows? The risk remains, forever. If you can't deal with it, don't go in the water. Ever.


  1. i think they are scared of shark attacks made by the same shark like what happened in new jersey in the early 1900s where one shark attacked several people at the beach then up a river.

  2. Ah, yes, sonny, the great shark attacks of 1916, I remember them well. It really put a crimp in our fanny-dunking, I can tell you that. (Scroll to the first Background paragraph - I didn't make up that word!)