Man used to fly, but no more; not since The Shift.
Then, am I not a man? Alone, naked, and illustrated in script, but a man all the same. As The Shift razed civilisation, I rose; a traveling man with only inks and an unshakeable task to record, but a man all the same.
I soar with the Trade Winds — sometimes the Jet Stream — and let them carry me over calico lands and beryl seas till I settle on foreign shores. Foreign to me, at least; I’ve strayed in all quarters. In Zanzibar I’ve been fed by the Tumbatu, I’ve shared palm wine with the Wolof, and warmed overnight in the caves of the Thonmen. The natives marvel at a man who flies. I bid them write on me and then I’m off; inscribed, aloft to the next country, another settlement, witnessing a billion smiling faces tilted up to me and waving me on.
They write on me.
From shimmering oases to icy homesteads, emerald valley towns and lapis archipelagos. Cuzco, Boston, Orkney, Lahore; the Qifan, Picts, Tawnee…tribes of Earth too numerous to count —multicoloured and multi-faithed — feed me, home me, love me and write their word, then send me off, with black calligraphy etched now in unfathomable layers. After all these years, it’s more illustration than script.
And strangely — though benighted and without prompt — they all chose the same word. One word in a multitude of languages written in characters as diverse as the planet.