Salt House

A hallucinatory character study from Alice Notley’s “The Descent of Alette.”


Independent Work

“Then I saw” “what I thought at first” “was a dead end—” “a wall” “As I neared the

wall,” “an opening” “in the ground in” “front of it” “became apparent—” “which turned out to be” “finally” “a staircase” “descending deeply” “below the level” “of caves” “I hesitated briefly—” “the corridor, the staircase” “were

so plain & empty” “Then I began to “descend the staircase” “I couldn’t see” “to the bottom” “of it” “at all” Somehow the staircase was lit” “so that only” “those steps were visible” “that fell directly” “in front of me” “I descended” “& descended,”

“winding round & round,” “became” “wobbly legged,” “sometimes proceeded” “very slowly” But then” “there was” “a scent in” “the air” “It was the smell of” “a river,” “a smell of water & weed” “A piece of white down” “drifted past me:” “tule fuzz”

“on a breeze,” “a real breeze “Suddenly I stepped down” “onto” “earth again” “& passed through a door” “into night air” “I stood” “on a riverbank,” “water flickering” “yellow-white” “in electric light” “cast by the bulb at” “this exit” “I wondered”

“if I hadn’t” “somehow been here” “

before” “A river at night:” “No,” “all rivers at night,” “I thought,” “are the same—” “that’s all . . .” “then the voice said,” “‘Keep walking’” “I walked to” “the river’s edge,” “took off my shoes,” “left them there”

“Began to wade” “into the water”

Notley, Alice. The Descent of Alette, 1996

Independent Project, 2018