“Two for each person, and one for the pot.” I count out the smallish russet potatoes for supper tonight, just another ordinary Thursday meal. I’m rushing to get them peeled and sliced so we can eat in time before heading out to dance class. Pay attention, I tell myself, Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s words still echoing in my head. “Only he who sees takes off his shoes.” Only she who sees…. peel, peel, plop.
What’s to see here? I wonder, shaving the earthy brown skin off the potatoes. My fingers are getting slimy with starch. These spuds are starting to sprout here at the bottom of the bag. With the pointed end of the peeler I dig out one of the eyes and the tubular beige bud poking out of it. Eyes. I gouge another one out. This potato has around half a dozen. I think about other creatures with more eyes than me, houseflies and starfish and cherubim. Gouge.
The eyes are where the life sprouts, from each dimple a potential new plant. Just multiplying away at the dark bottom of a paper bag. The more eyes you have, the more life can grow. This is a new thought. I picture myself walking around like a giant Mrs. Potato Head, googly eyes in all directions, with a hot pink purse, and cartoon flowers. Perhaps it’s the most like an angel I’ll ever look.
I reach for the eleventh russet and peel it white – one last dig and it is rendered blind. I feel a little sorry for it, lifeless on the board. But the slicing and dicing must go on. Soon a pack of hungry stomachs will appear. I take a final look into the paper bag and am strangely cheered by the last few sprouting spuds. They’ll wait for another meal.
Give me more eyes, I murmur, for the first time in my life praying to be like a potato.
S. D. G.