Of Tacos and the Inner Life

The after school kid topic today was how many tacos were eaten at lunch.  The girls each ate two.  The younger brother ate three.  Another child at the table quit after four. Teacher?  Four, apparently.  A fifth grade boy claimed the prize with eight.  Pondering this impossibility, the girls drew a diagram of how large his stomach might be and sandwiched in eight hand-drawn tacos.  A variation of anatomy, in the elementary school world, complete with graphic illustrations.

Don’t days sometimes seem a collage of pieces, one funkily shaped thing pressed in against another?  In my realm today of concrete things — washing dishes and writing tech bits, things I could hold in my hand — I had a conversation with one person about some of the deepest things in my life, a literal spading up of soul debris.

Aren’t the best novels that way, too, filled with the physicality of action and the deeper layers that turn our lives one way or another?  Surely, we’re shaped by the trees in our yards, maybe the nubs of apples fattening up that we finger every afternoon, or the roads we drive along particular rivers, watching their levels rise and ebb, or the patchwork quilt we smooth over a bed, every morning.  But within this, too, are the murkier regions of desire and raw longing, of resentment’s ice and anger’s torrents, and even when our surface belies a calmness, our inner workings foment.

Writing sifts down through those unclear, swirling layers, and tries to make sense of the impossible, accordions us out so we may see less of a mosh and something resembling sense. Know thyself, Socrates advised.  Writing arrows toward that knowing.

How would eight tacos fit into one boy?  We stretch, children.

THE LAYERS
Stanley Kunitz

…In my darkest night,
when the moon was covered
and I roamed through wreckage,
a nimbus-clouded voice
directed me:
“Live in the layers,
not on the litter.”
Though I lack the art
to decipher it,
no doubt the next chapter
in my book of transformations
is already written.
I am not done with my changes.

Photo by Molly S.

Photo by Molly S.

About Brett Ann Stanciu

A writer and sugarmaker, Brett Ann lives with her two daughters in stony soil Vermont. Her novel HIDDEN VIEW was published by Green Writers Press in the fall of 2015. Let my writing speak for itself.
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