Explosion at Sea

Explosion at Sea

A mushroom cloud rising over the sea.
Vija Celmins, Explosion at Sea (1966)



At dawn, the waves pull each other apart. The sky overhead converges and blurs, transforming the face of the water into a single color, soundlessly. Preparation for the moving, A RAIN OF RUIN. God knows what will happen here; but as of this moment, stillness, calm.


The surface contradicts the meaning. If the sun won’t rise, light endures—faceless, affectless, covert, divided. But atoms will find a way to resolve themselves into a face, no matter how unrecognizable. It is this face—the human face—which recalls A CITY VANISHED, or the moment preceding a rift in the origin. Water remains indivisible, yet we perceive, through heat, the expression of someone’s god.     


Our house that is the sea distresses itself: though its skin now reminds us of lustrous scales, there are intimations just a few miles below of a slow change, devoid of texture, voracious and importunate. Perhaps they will ascribe romance to this sort of godly explosion. Perhaps they will scrape it INSIDE AND OUTSIDE until the sea is nothing more than a carapace, a waveless vista whose surface is thin as the sky. And then we will go no further.


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