diào yǐ qīng xīn :: to lower one’s guard
by Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé
Gigi was beside Dr. Eichelberger, both of them looking at the image of the man in the wood. After some time, Gigi pointed to the man’s hands and arms. “He’s got the stigmata, doesn’t he? Those aren’t veins down his forearm. They are the blood from his wound. Maybe this is Francis of Assisi.” There were the two birds on the ledge behind the man. They looked like doves, and there was a fence of thorns around them. And roses behind the thorns, only they didn’t seem to come from the same bush. “The circular window behind the man isn’t a window,” Gigi said, without turning to look at Dr. Eichelberger. “It’s the sun. Look at its rays. They’re lightly painted in. I think the sun is given such a dark hue because it’s almost fully eclipsed.” Dr. Eichelberger took a step back from the plaque to get a better look at it. He had drunk too much, mixing up his liquor for maximum effect. Without food, the alcohol had gone straight into his bloodstream, straight to his head. With some trouble, he managed to catch Gigi’s eye. He took another step, away from her, as if eyeing her, now with some suspicion. “You’re not some art critic, are you?” He said jokingly, choking on a large gulp. “You’re not here to punish me, are you? I’ll take you up on your theory. Let’s say that’s Francis of Assisi. Then I think the two doves are no mere symbols, not even angels. Maybe a presentiment. Of what was to come. I’m talking about the two Catherines. Catherine of Sienna, and Catherine of Genoa. They both suffered the stigmata too. Well, they didn’t suffer the stigmata, as much as they were blessed with it. Yes, they were blessed to have it.”
Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé helms Squircle Line Press as its founding editor and publisher. He is the author of The Arbitrary Sign (Red Wheelbarrow Books), with I Didn’t Know Mani Was A Conceptualist(Math Paper Press) forthcoming in 2014. He has edited more than ten books and co-produced three audio books, several pro bono for non-profit organizations. A former entertainment journalist with 8 Days, Desmond has traveled to Australia, France, Hong Kong and Spain for his stories, which have included features on Madonna, Björk and Morgan Freeman, culminating in the authorship of the limited edition Top Ten TCS Stars for Caldecott Publishing. Trained in publishing at Stanford University, Desmond studied sociology and mass communication at the National University of Singapore, and later received his theology masters (world religions) from Harvard University and fine arts masters (creative writing) from the University of Notre Dame. An interdisciplinary artist, Desmond also works in clay, his ceramic works housed in museums and private collections in India, the Netherlands, UK, and USA. He is the recipient of the PEN American Center Shorts Prize, Swale Life Poetry Prize, Cyclamens & Swords Poetry Prize, Notre Dame Poetry Fellowship, NAC Writer-in-the-Gardens Residency, Stepping Stones Nigeria Poetry Prize, and Little Red Tree International Poetry Prize.