The Fragile Rock

Jessica Faunt

October 3, 2014 – Comb Ridge, UT

“Soft as the earth is mankind and both need to be altered” -W.H. Auden

Somewhere deep in southeastern Utah, outside the unexpected town of Bluff, rock is holding time in place.  A wave frozen in space, Comb Ridge rises from the earth perpetually at its peak, threatening to make its final crash upon the shore.  This wave was molded by sand into stone, a monument of motion. I ascend the rock, determined to eke from its bones some kind of strength.

The rock’s sandpaper edges grip my shoes.  Ribbons of red, gold and white dance beneath me.  In some places, the rock lets out a squeak, just barely audible, releasing a chunk of sandstone so tender it crumbles in my fingertips.  A fluid solid. A solid fluid.

I reach a plateau and pause, suddenly aware of the lichen sticking to the soles of my shoe.  I untie my laces and allow my toes to trace the waves and crevices of sandstone. I begin to dance, timid at first, arms tucked by my chest, gambling with how nearly invisible my path across the rock can be.  Soon I let my elbows slowly soften into roundness and my legs become more sure of themselves as I ebb and flow with the curves of the stage.  With a leap my arms open and I lift my chin to the sky, the sun filling my face with warmth.  For the first time, the gentleness of womanhood I have so strongly avoid feels essential on this fragile earth.  Soft as the earth is humankind and both need to be treasured.