Holding a Stone

Soeun Bae
BFA SC 2022

In the pile of round stones, I saw one that seemed as if it was becoming transparent. It had this strange luminance similar to the way your finger turns orange when a flashlight shines through it. The skin glows in cadmium so much that it begins to look fragile. The stone would burst open if I just left it there, oozing liquids from its skin, I thought, like a lump of flesh carved away from my back. So I took it with me, holding it between my two hands.

Some long time ago, I read somewhere that one’s face absorbs the essence of their surrounding landscapes. So, people from the sea would inherit faces of the sea and people in the mountains would adopt the faces of
the mountain.

I kept this stone close to me at all times as it became a habitual object to hold and began to feel like an extension of my body. The stone would sink in closer to me as I was pressing my fingers between the lumps of the surface. I had this little hope that I too, would receive the face of the stone to transmit its flesh.

But as soon as I thought I could be transparent, the stone disappeared . . .

I looked through the pile of round stones for a glimmer of the luminance that slipped away from my hands. I started walking from the biggest of the round stones until they all became planes of soft sands. I thought I could touch the flesh of the stone within the mound of round stones but not one stone had that skin-like orange glow. I followed the most transparent point in the puddle of the land particles. Then somehow the entire landscape seemed to become transparent. I didn’t know where else to walk for my stone.

I was attracted to the stone by its transparency, the way that it was so similar to the surface of my skin, but somehow better because it would be invincible, never wrinkle or change, but only lay in stillness. But in the transparent land the stone lost its way. Maybe it already dissolved into the lands. Maybe all I can do is plummet into the sand and let it push me towards the lowest point of the sand pile. I could stay forever in the sand and let the sheer grains take my body away to replace me with theirs . . .

But I could never sink into the sands . . . I floated around the top.

I walked in spirals to try to touch the flesh of the stone again and hold it in between my hands. I tried to feel the dents of the rock on my hand again but I could only feel the surface of my own skin.

Will I ever dream of being transparent again? I had seen an expanse of dispersed shimmers while searching among the landmass. From the stones to the sands, I placed myself on the landscape in a search for a transparent flesh. I was beginning to wonder if I had even lost the stone anymore. Maybe it already dissipated into my skin—absorbing the stone as an extension of my limbs. 

Soeun Bae is holding multiple objects in her hands.