Spiral Jetty/Robert Smithson

by Travis Jeppesen on April 1, 2014



-after James Benning-



I am alive (the sky.) The waters lapping, moving towards. Calm – cool, the curl of momentum. Speedboat whizzing past the birds. In April birds’re louder. Still, the sky desolate – a deathly gray. Inside that surrounding curl. Stepped on the rocks to look out at the mound, that wannabe mountain, defines the beyond. Water lapping at my crustacean brains. A bit silvery, that moon of rock. Its collapse. Magnetized the shore. No localized feeling. From the first curl look at the green the constant shore. Were it not for silence. Blackish rock single emerges from the waters. A scar on the canvas. We follow the around. Pick up that spiral, put it in the sky. Bendy shore the stones lean in to punctuate.


September came and then the sun, a mountainous angle. Sometimes the salts wrap around, form a beatific muck shell. Sweet whistle of lake bird, here have some salt. The water cold swallowing yr ankles, shoots up the legs and full body froth. The negligence that the sky commits its bold openness. Now the hills golden, so as not to commit to the sound. Cross the zonal malcollapse. Look how the salts make silty sculptures on the water’s lid. Rub up against the rocks inferring a shore. Reach out into the water’s calm fake beyond, it is pulling you there. Like an arm, saluted.


What winter does is lower the sky. Whee! someone shrieks. A voice in the abdominal mist. The spiral screams its own shore. Water surrounding has partially abandoned, left dry sand in its retreat. We know not what we are tracing. Voice keeps crying out, yell at that spiral, so desperate and angry. Or else maybe it is the stones crying out at us, desperate, their hydral therapy. We are zoning out and shocklike in the perpetual misery of our abandon. Scream at that mountain also, it is shocking in its tumescence. The mists fornicate with the horizon. A man squelches. Rocks have snows on them. The water melts. It was never frozen.


The following month and somehow the water so much brighter, but only the stones. Now a sheath layer of snow upon them, much hoary water noise in the otherwise silence. What happened the birds have frozen. Airplane. Gone down to the snows and to have found. A buck around. Zero in on that curve she makes the most sound. It is because the ice minnows, nipping at their form in the under. This ice looks like two breasts. Laps against and then oh the little bubbles. Rockshore mercy is frozen. The gulf that drains the block. All along the snowy hills surrounding. Yet nothing falls. A mere portrait of the ice. Soon something to emerge from all this.


Spring brings with it fresh sounds. The birds had babies, came back. They like to look at the spiral from their place in the sky. Soon also some mothers dying. Silt between the rocks has replaced the ice. Waters have returned to the jetty also. They wish to go under. At the beginning, ankle of the jetty, it has very neatly covered. And across the hilly expanse we can see it reflected in the water. We study the water mirror and two heavy explosions sound: the earth’s stunning rejection.


By May, it has become an ocean. Jetty all eaten by the flood. Will the waters wash all those rocks away? A sudden storm comes upon us, let it not be a Moby Dick tale. Rushing into salt foam, water matches the sky, that means there is no horizon for once. Looking out there. Please wash me, I am a spiral jetty stone, dirtied by the seasons. For me, there is no reason. What others soon may not. For me there is no season. A bath the only thing that keeps me dry. When the waters retreat enough to spot it from a distance. A dog running down the jet, about to attack the shore.


July and it’s all water (I am sneaking.) Lush, nature has had an orgasm, the cloud bodies. Shivers and curls, too enjoying itself to form a wave. What is not to be forgiven its quaking. Spiral can’t even be seen. Thought I heard someone slurping. The salt that bad. Maybe a gobular gulp. Cloud magnets underwater. Underwater sky, the by and by. Burp fat elastic yellow. I am watching.


A decade has surpassed our observatory folds, it is January. A skull-era encased. Now naught can be seen once again. It is almost all all-cloud, the only bright is the lapping. Light seems to spill out of that distant mountain, like a white dove vomited from Joan of Arc’s croaking bod. Waters assume a certain gray to contrast with the impressive blue-white of the sky, a certain time gone by. Now we are all waters. Buried may indeed forge our future legacy. Do you love the deposits, bubble? Not too far to be a landlocked breeze. How light the climb. The music in our disease.


Springtime for a whole other buried. Reach toward the fructified other, magnificent birdstock, never so innocent as to be seen. Rock has only its head above water, barely treading. Goddamn gunshot. America reacts back. You can’t put this fucking art down here. The curl now can hardly be inferred, that is why it is sad (the drowning.) A whistling cocktail of a bird, chickadee may be its name. Narrow focus on one rock appears like a sharkfin. Not in this stormy lake of dreams.


Five of them out there. He wants to be drunk, a pirate. Sixth, even. Three couples take their turns. This is the time of year there are sands surrounding. Go out to the middle, the very terminus, close yr eyes and hear the lapping. Looks different from the air, she says. She has knowledge. Others followed the signs from the national park. Him and her, the birds told them where to go. They unearthed it. Tiny dead robin asleep in permanence upon the sediment. Pretty soon its rot to be preserved. Salt is good for some things. That mountain making the brown waters move toward us. White stones look naked as summer takes its last flight.


Autumn is my favorite because every thing looks so beautiful when it starts to die. Here everything frozen by uncertainty. It knows (the everything) that winter is on its way, it just doesn’t know which direction it should run to escape it. Now, this year, an early snow has given us the answer. When in doubt, flush it out – yr entire system vague. Chunks of snow crawling up the shore, wishing to be elitist – they are only chunks. Great balls of flakiness, foam, chase the withered horizon. I love how you are not even me.


Skip ahead to spring and love hurts once more. What the effin’ fuck is that. The waters placid for once, making it singular – water, not waters. One lake, great and salty. The spiral recoils perfect in its stillness. Country music song. Sometimes (in yr mind) the water disappears and it’s like the spiral is a star wars spaceship frozen in the air. Because in that movie it is the camera always moving; the purple-pink bruise as day fades. Love is such a zoo.


The summer wanted to have something mean to say. We wouldn’t answer its fears. A great roaring, as though a chorus of tympanis. No ducks braying, only one lone bird that sounds like an insect. The shore’s hollow significance. Keep lapping, lord. It’s the trinkle that forms the treble, tympani is the bass. Aaaaahhhh, that bird’s screaming! It must really want to get laid. Wouldn’t you, if you were a bird? Rocks do their dance, stalagmites in the bleating stream. November came early this year.


The month of November is more like summer than winter or fall. All the calming that became involved, we wanted to camp out upon the jetty. Jet screamed across the sky, sentimentalized aerial bacteria. There is a moment when a curve becomes like an arch. Or you look really hard at a rock and see a bunch of little faces on it. The dance of the salt crystals as the liquid dries. Not an arch, but an angle. Water doesn’t move; we hear it anyway. That, I mean, is what was greatly needed: the bald eagle’s abortion across the midnight sky.


In February, the water moves faster than a flushing toilet, and so the better for those teensy parasites, who so love to dance. Let’s just hope the fishies don’t eat them. Even salt needs its identificatory features. Spiral almost got dissolved that year. Funguslike plant grows between the rocks, hoping to aid the upholdance. Little microbes grab on to it, praying. Living on the body of a larger thing is but one stop on the road to becoming.


And when it gets scattered, all the matter. The merry month of May, but this one ain’t gay. The sky is an elephant, water rushes away – not because it has things to do, but because it is scared. The rocks look the same to it as the sky, and so all is lost in indiscernibility. A tacky row of birds bawking in the distance. I don’t want to look at them. I am here to stare at the spiral. That and the everything that gets in its way. Storm clouds oh fuck. The curved arm reaches out, wanting. It comes closer the harder we stare.


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