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Hyun Woo Kim

Deserted Small Pretty Things

Chaekgeori by unknown artist

“You will feel sad many times in your life,” said my grandmother, “you belong to those people who cannot let go of small, pretty things.” I was thirteen, pouring sand from Coral Pink Sand Dunes into a plastic bag. My grandparents, having flown all the way from South Korea to visit us, were traveling around the American West with my family in an SUV.

Nineteen years have passed since then. I have never come back to the United States after that year in my teens, but I still think of Coral Pink Sand Dunes sometimes. It was the first desert that I ever saw in my life.

I live in Seoul now. The pink sand from the desert in Utah is still with me at home in a cupboard. It is now contained in a glass bottle, also from the US. I have not taken a look at it for a few years, not even once. It is deserted in a sense. I know that it still lingers there in the dark behind the cupboard door that I never open, along with other small pretty things from my past, but that does not mean that they are not deserted by me.

In theory, I could visit Coral Pink Sand Dunes again any time I want, or even settle down in the desert, but either the desert or I will let go of the other one day. This sense of sand-like transience, never to be held firmly in one’s palms, pours a certain sadness into me. Then I wonder all of a sudden: does anybody, who had thought that I am a small pretty thing, still feel sad that I had to be let go? I hope so and hope not, at the same time.

About the writer:
Hyun Woo Kim is a writer living in Seoul. Hyun Woo Kim’s works have appeared on Bear Paw Arts Journal, Half and One, Vermillion, and Fresh Words. In addition, more pieces are scheduled to be published by BarBar and ellipsis… literature & art. When not writing, Kim is busy telling people that his first name is Hyun Woo, not Hyun.

Image: Chaekgeori Six-Panel Screen by unknown artist. Ink and color on paper. 60 x 157 inches. Late eighteenth-early nineteenth century. Public domain.

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