Jiang Hao

“I shall tell, one day, of your mysterious origins” (Arthur Rimbaud, “Vowels”). The sea is here. To her, her inimitably buoyant origin is her secret. Condensation, reflections of the sea’s pale light, tears in eyes, dew on shirttails, are all a kind of release. Unlike the perishable pact crystallizing between us, release is first and foremost a real ease. Letting go is a word for getting low. Revealing is a type of feeling. Revealing the perfect and pluripotent germ that exists before an object takes shape. Each of the ships you place on the chessboard of the sea’s surface moves along fixed paths, its appearing and disappearing, like the waxing and waning of dew, transmitting the roundness of silence to our rolling hills. The echo’s uncharted and folding journey expands to the books with waves folded into them. The marks on your face have been kissed by sound. “The sea is a drop of dew on the planet,” “Earth is a drop of dew in the universe.” But in the generation gulf between us, joy and anguish are both drops of dew. A drop, a clearly visible drop of undew. Scattered and nameless endings resemble the perceptible mirage of a cloak covered with the scars of sap. Haidian is a kernel like electricity, like dew, like an awl pinning down a boundless bolt of silk waves. Every time the tide recedes, it swallows the sand and foam it expelled. The sea gives birth to a coastline as long as the day and night. The shells strung together, and the days that live in those shells, are like silkworms spinning cocoons, or better yet, silkworms meditating, all you can hear in the wind is how it’s going to keep the waves it molded in a state of turbulence. The island has only an ineffectual empty shell like a Chinese full stop. From the sea’s point of view, the island is a drop of dew rolling in the center of a giant lotus leaf, a tiny Protean cover that the waves use as a pretext for confronting the evil storms, symmetrical to the shell towers in which sand collects. I’ll mail you an arbitrary spoonful of this multitude of waters to drink. Along the spiral of the shell a mirage of countless paths forms, each one leading to the ferment of your countless incarnations. When you sink into maze-like free fall, counting on the rope of an aphorism to guide you along, your shadow is the flash of a lie. And your lie confirms that the path you’ve taken may be nothing more than a rope. The sea has generated so many controversies and misunderstandings for us, every rock protrudes from the sea to explain how, underwater, its base ruggedly forms a mainland. But the sea is flat, just as the world is flat. The weight of the sea is not the weight of its water, rather, it’s roughly equivalent to the weight of air in a vacuum. Secrets are light, perhaps the lightest souls of all. If angels had souls, that would be their secret. When one of them takes flight, particularly in the night sky, her secret is the secret of the night: like a plump curve, it constantly travels in all directions, generating countless curves that mutually intersect, bisect, overlap. The night is vast! The crux of any secret: flying. But the night is not a bird. The sleep of birds at night is like the peaceful surface of the sea. The sea will never fly, that’s the origin of her honesty and her pain. The proverb has it that spring fish fly like birds. The blade fins of fish are the sea’s wings. She carves out the waves, lacerating the rolling hands that carve out the waves. When she bends low, she gathers up her two sides, just as you gather up the prefixes of inhaling and exhaling from your name. When the sea sleeps, she’s a baby, her bald head like a beach for kissing. There may not be a seagull. She’s giving the sea a moment of peace.

translated from the Chinese by Chenxin Jiang