Lips of the Red Sea

Therefore from one man [Abraham], and him as good as dead, were born descendants as many as the stars of heaven and as many as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore.

Hebrews 11:12

‘It is that last word,’ Paul writes it out, ‘sea, yes, seashore.’ The paper rips under the pencil. ‘That one word requires three Greek words. Seashore is χεῖλος τησ θαλάσσης.’ The paper begins to darken, smudge graphite, and ink like newspaper.

‘χεῖλος, I love this word, it means lips,’ Paul touches his mouth. On the corner a graphite fingerprint smears. He licks his lips. ‘Lips, yes, refers to that organ from which you yawn, bark, talk. But lips, imagine, are the edge. The edge of your words, of thoughts, an edge of your body that is very sensitive.’ He lays his tongue on his lower lip.

‘θαλάσσης, means sea,’ Paul foams at the mouth. He touches his lip and smears the drool like lipstick. ‘A sea, think of it- yes, the Red Sea!’ Paul nibbles the corner of his lip, a little of his cheek. A little drip of red pigment rests upon his lips like a drop of water in the desert. Water sponging across the universe.

‘Now, χεῖλος τησ θαλάσσης, altogether means,’ Paul writes, ‘well, let us say is the lips of the Red Sea.’ Paul draws a circle upon the paper. Like a child, he colors the inside black, the outside red. At least, what remains of color. ‘Abrahams descendants are, now, read this carefully,’ Paul slows, ‘are born on the lips of the Red Sea.’

‘Overflow on the lips of the Red Sea.’ Paul spits on the paper.

‘Born in the sublime,’ Paul writes and bubbles in like a crossword, ‘born on the lips of the Red Sea.‘ I imagine looking back, from the outer edge of the circle- enveloped in red, into the dark- enveloped in black. I imagine looking back.

But Abraham is with us upon the lips. ‘He is in repetition,’ Paul says, reminding me of Kierkegaard, ‘on the edge always loosing to gain- undulating with the movement of the Red Sea.’ The edge of the Red Sea, the lips of the Red Sea.

‘There, there is overflow, turning back upon itself like the tide.’


About Rene Diebenkorn

Lifetime Artist. ETC.

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