Room is pleased to feature the captivating and thought-provoking Deep Salt Water, an interdisciplinary collaboration among four artists—author Marianne Apostolides, collage artist Catherine Mellinger, photographer Melanie Gordon, and composer Paul Swoger-Ruston—based on the forthcoming book by Apostolides of the same title.
Deep Salt Water is an intimate memoir about abortion, expressed through the language and imagery of the ocean. In Month 6, the reader is introduced to a surrealist portrait of Apostolides’ lover set against a description of a boy who’s held in the lungs of a humpback whale. This type of watery overlap—reality coming into focus only to blur—is charactertistic of Apostolides’ aesthetic in this unusual work of non-fiction.
To hear this month’s text read aloud by Apostolides, embedded in a larger sonic landscape by Swoger-Ruston, scroll to the bottom of the page.
Deep Salt Water: Month Seven
Seagrass spreads in the Mediterranean, beds of fronds and roots like ginger. No other flower survives in saltwater. Despite this uniqueness, seagrass migrated from the ocean: half a billion years ago, it abandoned the sea and sprang on dry land. By adjusting its life to arid air, it bore small fruit—but then it reversed—an arduous journey, transitioning back after millions of years. It’s been seventeen. You lay me down. I sense, immediate: you are my home. You’re both lover and family. Return to the water. A meadow of seagrass has started to flower.
The peaks of heat don’t coincide: the air warms faster than the ocean.
Even if we willful, change, the oceans will retain what we’ve done.
The lapse will last the life of a child.
It’s happening, slowly: the heat is rising on its arc.
I’m on that curve. Your palms press down, atop my hips. I’d long forgotten; now I remember, this hungering touch from the time before. When we were young. When ‘time’ was an arrow: trajectory, forward, we’d straddle that arrow of time and ride. “And maybe that’s the end of youth…” “Stay here,” you say. You put on a record: Coltrane’s ache that’s coated in smoothness. My body obeys, but my mind is spinning. Restless, thinking, this is when we’re tossed from youth: when we know, with our instinct—our animal bodies—that time is not an ever-forward. Stay here, you said. Your fingertips are stroking my skin. But time curves, with gravity, back.
The mass of time is being released. Feedback loops as fossils burn—as seas are rising, moisture gathering. Human minds deny this loop.
Ingenious, technology—we’ll devise incredible solutions!
Rocket time: invent a future; escape the past.
Waves of time are waves of sound: it’s a thought experiment. Let’s play it out. We’re lying in bed, with an old recording of Cannonball Adderley setting the mood. “Mercy, Mercy, Mercy,” he says, then he lifts his sax. In my analogy, waves of time could come together: intersect and cause a spike. An augmentation, rising toward a plane of perception that I couldn’t reach without you. But you cried this morning, recalling a miscarriage. Twins, you told me. I hadn’t known. I’d never seen you cry before. Continue the thought. In my analogy, waves of time could cancel each other. Arcs, in contact, suddenly flatline: an ugly, immediate, nullification. As if each history never happened. “Babe?” I say. You don’t respond. You’re lost in the music. Nice and flow: Mercy, Mercy, Mercy.
Click here to listen to Swoger-Ruston’s soundscape, featuring Apostolides’ reading of Deep Salt Water: Month Seven.
Month 6 of Deep Salt Water is available here.
Deep Salt Water by Marianne Apostolides will be published by BookThug in April 2017, but you can pre-order your copy, which will be shipped to you before the book is launched.
This month’s images are from “Muscle” a mixed-media collage by Catherine Mellinger, macro-photographed by Melanie Gordon.
We’d like to acknowledge the financial support of the Ontario Arts Council, which funded Marianne Apostolides in the writing of her text, and the Waterloo Regional Arts Fund, which funded Catherine Mellinger in the creation of her collages.
Marianne Apostolides is the author of five books, three of which have been translated. She’s also a recipient of the Chalmers Arts Fellowship. Deep Salt Water is forthcoming from BookThug in spring 2017.
Catherine Mellinger is an analog collage artist and mixed media artist whose works find inspiration in ideas originated by the Dadaist and early Surrealists, breaking the barriers of an image in order to re-infuse it with lyricism. Using vintage paper ephemera and personal photographs mixed with pencil, pen, and watercolour, her collages explore and reflect on memory as a sensory experience. Originally from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, and having studied in Toronto, Catherine now lives Waterloo, Ontario.
Melanie Gordon is a conceptual and documentary photographer based in Toronto. For the past 20 years, she's been inquiring into the nature of time, the meaning of home, and the shifts in her own identity as a woman, mother, and artist. Melanie's photographs have been described as intimate and magical tellers of stories. Her work has been exhibited in galleries and published in magazines and books in Canada and internationally.
Paul Swoger-Ruston engages in a philosophy and science of music that considers style a compounding of evolutionary, environmental, and cultural patterns of observation, evaluation, and imitation that obscure the dynamic, emergent properties of interactive gesture (body), acoustical space (environment), and neural entrainment (ear/mind).