chén sī mò xiǎng :: rumination
by Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé
All that was said had been said, all those years ago. Dr. Eichelberger was silent for a long time, and Gigi neither felt the need to make a comment, or get up to leave. The session had long ended, this weekday afternoon prolonging itself as if a friendship had been forged. Dr. Eichelberger had a symmetry to his face, eyes even spaced apart, a good nose, and a broad smile. He looked like the models used in Caravaggio’s paintings. The models are perceived as beautiful now. Back then, their faces were viewed as too commonplace, without distinguishing features or more importantly, the air of aristocracy. “His housemate commented we both looked like we’d walked out of a Caravaggio canvas.” Dr. Eichelberger leaned forward, then cupped his head between his knees, as if they were pillows. This wasn’t a gesture of deep pain or the need to hide somewhere. It was a way to focus, so clarity would emerge even after all the heavy drinking. “He was the one that looked like Goliath, which seemed a cruel comment since Caravaggio painted Goliath as decapitated, held up by his hair. David didn’t look triumphant in the painting. He looked unhappy with the killing, something so counterintuitive to how everyone celebrates the moment. The killing of the giant, as it were. I was Holofernes, his housemate said, with a secret meanness. He joked that he didn’t know Assyrians and Swedes looked so alike. It wasn’t funny when we found out it was a painting of Judith beheading Holofernes. An act of deception. Seducing the general, filling him up with booze to weaken him, then slitting his throat. In his tent. With his own sword.” Dr. Eichelberger had lifted his head from between his legs, and now glanced around the room for the small Caravaggio. Any Caravaggio was his link to the affair, and all the emotions it engendered for him. “Two dead men,” he remarked, his eyes wide open and looking at the framed picture on the sideboard. “We are two dead men, dead to the world. And our heads are hanging from our neck by a sliver of skin. And we manage to get by. Only by the skin of our teeth.”
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.