from Alphabets of Desire & Sorrow: A Book of Imaginary Colophons
by Norman Lock
Alphabet of Kites (2)
Linotype operator Zheng He stepped from a trolley car onto the Street of Martyrs, which rose above the harbor, at the moment when the sun, having fallen nearly into the blackening sea, was pouring from out its crucible molten light onto the delicate sails of the junks. Rapt, he forgot his life, entering like a monk into the contemplation of a wordlessness whose expression was for him flaming boats riding on a flood of gold. In time, he would transmute his vision into an alphabet resembling the paper kites whose purpose is only to burn – their bamboo bones engulfed by imperious night. Li Wan wished to use Zheng’s characters to render his poem on the silence of a lacquered bowl. But before the ink could dry, the paper had turned to ash while Zheng – consumed by silence, rotted by light – perished in the fire of an inhuman devotion.