The bubbles glow like mother-of-pearl on your fingers, then shoot out, tickling your hands and arms as you move forward.
Today your movements cut through the water in a familiar different way, this archive of material memory that you cross without leaving a trace caresses your whole body, and you try to keep your belly flat and your feet from sinking, so that you too can caress the water.
You move forward, tilt your head to one side, mouthful of air and salty foam. You think of that old interview you saw a few days ago, of the poet Antonio Gala saying that a castaway drowning in the sea becomes larger than the sea itself, because the castaway knows he is dying while the sea does not know it is killing him; he also said that death is a leap, but not into the void, but rather a cushioned leap. You continue forward, but you close your eyes and envision the image of the Tomb of the Diver, that mysterious body isolated in the sky in the middle of its leap into eternity.
You open your eyes. Blue. Salt burning in your nose. On this last stroke you decide that your body will follow your arm all the way, effortlessly, turning until you are looking up. Blue. So ethereal. All your limbs stretch, and spread, and the exhaustion of the world seems to sink, but this time not with you.
A few months ago you read that the earliest known trace of humans swimming is in the middle of a desert. Somewhere in Egypt, swimmers breaststroke up the walls of a cave. Those who have swum above a thousand meters deep compare it to being in the sky and looking at the devil at the same time, now that everything is blue you understand. The bright line that joins those two blues embraces you, and you wave with it. In it. It amuses you to feel how your chest rises and buries itself, in time with your breathing, increasingly calm.
Perhaps by swimming Lord Byron felt liberated from his innate lameness, in Venice he swam with a torch in his hand so that the gondoliers could see him. That image appears vividly in my mind: a sort of fatuous fire running along the surface of the dark waters in the shady canals, like a star falling from the sky onto the dark waters. In fact, in Greece the stars and constellations were often seen as beautiful young men, who, due to movements in the firmament, emerged from the sea and then plunged back into it
A cold stream brushes your side and you resolve to go in search of it. You dive, as when Theseus dived in search of the ring, and "eyes bright as lilies shed tears, for they expected onerous doom", but Theseus dived all the way to Poseidon's palace, and returned. And you return as well, and the Sun is still there, and the brightness, and the blue, and your hair smelling of salt.
— Cristina Spinelli
With many thanks to the galleries 1 Mira Madrid, Ana Mas Projects (Barcelona), Galerie Lelong & Co. (New York) and Madragoa (Lisbon).