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Stella Maris
Umělec magazine
Year 2008, 2
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Stella Maris

Umělec magazine 2008/2


KW | art project | en cs de es

I first met Vera at a party. We went to another room to escape from the noise. It was dark, lit up only by a window, a shining valley of streets in the depths below it. We sat down close to that window, above the abyss, and there Vera told me about captain J. and the boat Stella Maris, about the shipwreck and the captain’s wife Timela, about the
addictive desire for beauty, harmony and freedom for all, about the treacherous comfort of instant chemical karma.

Only he, himself, knows what he has achieved. That’s what I think, Vera said emphatically. She continued, after
a pause, with a sad but calm smile: What he didn’t do, though, is draw a comic strip, that he promised me once for my birthday, about a man who fights the waves with all his might. He survives, but loses consciousness from exhaustion and stays on the wet sand. When he comes to, he starts to get ready for the journey inland, looking forward to seeing people, as soon as he gains some strength back. After hours, or days, or weeks of hesitating on the shore, he goes back into the sea and in deeper water dives under the first big wave. (I found a sketch only for the first picture.)

It was clear that his Stella would sink sooner or later. It just couldn’t go on like this any longer. The captain put an old picture on the cover of a ship logbook – a boat representing Stella. It looks gigantic, and the small black steamers are darting away from it in all directions. He couldn’t think of better symbolism. The more the captain wished to be accepted, understood, the more he became a burden to normal live, and life to him. Even his best friends finally had enough. He wanted for the best, but did that which was worst – that was the way he felt.

His wife Timela is still in shock, still hung up about it, doing desperate things (even a canister full of different chemicals, which she found behind the ropes on the sailboat that they bought together, did not help her understand it and sober up). I feel like screaming “Stop it!” at her. I think she hurts herself most when she sails out to the sea at night in their sailboat, to the place where it happened. She says she is keeping watch in the dark, under-deck, pressing her face against the boat’s thin hull. The captain used to call those who drowned “definitive seafood”. She imagines herself lying helplessly at the bottom of the sea, pressed down by the weight of the water, waiting for the first fish.
She painfully remembers how he drowned, all alone. There is one image stuck in her mind – he was just a few meters below the surface, hanging in the radiant water, neither heavy nor light. His face had such a calm and peaceful expression, which she hasn’t seen for years. At that moment, he looked like the object of his own desire.
(Everything on his work table was there as he left it – favorite toys, medicine balls, empty sheath from a scuba knife, which she gave him for his birthday, and the ship logbook cover. She added the picture of the shipwreck that was in all the papers.)

She keeps going back to what the rescue crew told her: They saw him soon after he showed up on the sonar, on the screen he looked like an Etruscan Elvis. They were so close that they could clearly see, through the window in the floor of the rescue mini-submarine, as he was floating in the water.

But just as they were turning the vessel around to drag him out, he woke up as if from sleep, turned around pointing his head down and started swimming to the bottom, faster and faster, away from the surface.
Down, away from the surface!
She remembered how he once said, quietly, buried in himself, “Like a knife in the water?”
That’s how he sank, shimmering at times, as the rescuers told it. They saw him only once after that, when, for a moment, he was lit up below by their reflector beam. He was straining, swimming towards the dark depths, a rope of last bubbles dragging behind him.

After a moment of silence Vera said: But I believe that he came through, that he will come up somewhere on the other side with the biggest pearl in his mouth, so that he wouldn’t have to say another word.
He will come out of the water at the mouth of the Rose cavern, where you can still see Stella Maris on the horizon. When he is tired, he rests in his Rose cavern, and time is no more.

We sat there for a long time silently. Then Vera got up to go get another drink. I stayed, sitting in the dark, not moving, not able to tear myself away from the glittering abyss under my feet and the thoughts inside me.
I know that feeling myself – the longing for a clean star, that shines on another floor, but I still would like to become friends with time, before I let it go.



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